New Delhi: In a parting shot, outgoing Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha on Friday strongly defended the collegium system of appointment of judges, saying any other mode of appointment may impact on the independence of judiciary.
He said judges are best equipped to judge the suitability of candidates before appointment.
“I feel and it is my view that if appointment to higher or superior judiciary is made through other institution or body where persons other than judges are involved, it may impact the independence of judiciary. That is my view,” Justice Lodha said while interacting with reporters a day before he demits the office as CJI.
“My view on the issue is Judges are best equipped to adjudge the suitability of a person or candidate as the judges of the superior court because as judges we know all about their court craft, behaviour, skill, legal knowledge and other aspects. So there cannot be a better equipped person than a judge who watches them,” he said.
Justice Lodha strongly recommended that there should be a two-year “cooling off” period before a retired CJI and judges of higher judiciary take up any constitutional post or government assignment.
“This is again a very personal view. I hold the view that the CJI, judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of High Courts and judges of High Courts should not accept any constitutional position or assignment with government. There should be a cooling off period of two years,” he said.
However, he clarified that because of requirement of appointments in some tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies, statutes require the appointment of judges and that has to continue unless the Acts or statutes are amended or some other method is to be found.