CJI Chandrachud Defends Collegium System Appointing Judges


New Delhi: Not every system is perfect but this is the best system developed by the judiciary, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said on Saturday while defending the Collegium system of judges appointing judges, a major bone of contention between the government and judiciary.

Speaking at the India Today Conclave, 2023, the 50th CJI also took questions on the controversy over the SC Collegium’s reiteration of openly gay senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal for appointment as a judge of the Delhi High Court after it was rejected by the government.

Chief Justice Chandrachud said the sexual orientation of a candidate for judgeship has nothing to do with his ability.

“The candidate (Kirpal) you are referring to, every aspect which was mentioned in the report of the Intelligence Bureau was in the public domain. The candidate in question is open about his sexual orientation. So, when the IB flagged something, we were not really opening up IB sources of information. What could be the danger? Someone might say if you put the IB report in public domain, you might be compromising the sources of information of the IB on the issues of national security. Somebody’s life may be in danger.

“This was not a case like that. The IB report dwelt on the sexual orientation of an openly declared gay candidate for prospective judgeship. It’s known to the entire profession and widely reported in the media. All that we said in the resolution was that the sexual orientation of a candidate has nothing to do with the ability or the constitutional entitlement of the candidate to assume a high constitution post of a high court judge,” he said.

In January, the Supreme Court Collegium had reiterated its November 11, 2021 recommendation for appointing Kirpal as a judge of the Delhi High Court, rejecting the Centre’s contention that though homosexuality stands decriminalised in India, same-sex marriage is still bereft of recognition.

The CJI said the object of the Collegium system was to maintain independence and that can be done by insulating it from outside influences.

“As the Chief Justice, I have to take the system as it is given to us… I am not saying every system is perfect but this is the best system we have developed. The object of this system was to maintain independence which is a cardinal value. We have to insulate the judiciary from outside influences if the judiciary has to be independent. That is the underlying feature of Collegium,” Chandrachud said.

Amid the tussle between the government and the judiciary, the CJI also responded to Law Minister Kiren Rijiju voicing displeasure over the Supreme Court Collegium revealing the government’s reasons for not approving the names recommended by it for appointment as judges of constitutional courts.

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