Chief Justice of India RM Lodha defends collegium

justice lodaNEW DELHI : In the middle of the government’s moves to change the system of appointing judges, Chief Justice of India RM Lodha today strongly defended the collegium system of judges selecting judges.”For God’s sake don’t shake the confidence of people in judiciary,” Justice Lodha said while hearing a petition connected to controversial judge KL Manjunath – whose promotion as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has been strongly opposed by the Centre.
The petition, which said meetings of the collegium on selection of judges should be posted on the Supreme Court website, has been rejected.
“The collegium system has not failed. I am the person in the first batch appointed as a judge by the collegium system and Justice Rohinton (Nariman) is the last person. If the collegium system has failed then we are all failed,” Justice Lodha said.Contradicting media reports, the Chief Justice also denied that the collegium, which he heads, had recommended the elevation of Justice Manjunath, who faces allegations linked to a land deal.
“Who told you the collegium has recommended Justice Manjunath’s elevation? I am the CJI. I head the collegium. We have not made any recommendation. This is a campaign to defame judiciary and bring disrespect in eyes of the public,” he said.
The seniormost judge’s impassioned defence of the collegium system comes as the Centre is attempting to replace it with a six-member Judicial Appointments Commission headed by the Chief Justice, which will include two Supreme Court judges, the Union Law Minister and two eminent persons.
Currently, the collegium made up of five seniormost Supreme Court judges including the Chief Justice appoints judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts. Last month, the government called a meeting with top jurists and said that the “predominant view” was to change this.
The government cited a recent controversy over former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju’s allegation that a corrupt judge was not removed because of pressure on then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from his Tamil Nadu ally DMK and “improper compromises” made by three former Chief Justices of India.

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