The Chief Justice of India (CJI), D.Y. Chandrachud, said on Saturday that no institution in a Constitutional democracy, including the collegium, is perfect and within the existing system, a solution has to be worked out, emphasising that judges are faithful soldiers who implement the Constitution.
Speaking at the Constitution Day event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the Chief Justice said: “Finally, criticism about the collegiuma. No institution in a Constitutional democracy is perfect. But we work within the existing framework of the Constitution as it is interpreted and given to us. All the judges of the collegium, including me… we are faithful soldiers who implement the Constitution.”
“Good judging is about being compassionate, good judging is about understanding the problems of people, good judging is about not being judgmental about people whose ways of life you and I may not agree with, including somebody who is in breach of the law,” Chandrachud said.
The CJI said that getting good people in the judiciary and paying them high salaries would not reform the collegium.
“Getting good people to enter the judiciary, getting good lawyers to enter the judiciary is not just the function about reforming the collegium. Getting to be judges is not a function of how much salary you give to the judges,” he said.
Chandrachud added that people become judges due to a sense of commitment for public service, as the salary of a judge will be a fraction of what a successful lawyer makes at the end of the day.
“Becoming a judge is call of conscience,” he said.
Chandrachud also said that the legal profession needs to shed its colonial underpinnings and the strict dress code for lawyers, particularly in summer, could be reconsidered.
“The strictness on attire should not lead to moral policing of woman lawyers,” he said.
The Chief Justice emphasised that when we need to have good people within the system, it is essential to mentor young people by giving them the ability to become judges, and it is necessary to ensure that young lawyers are mentored by the judges.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, who also attended the event, said the Central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has never undermined the authority of the judiciary and will always ensure that its independence remains untouched.
Rijiju said, “We are the offspring of the same parent.. ‘hum bhai-bhai hain. Aapas me ladna-jhagadna theek nahi hai. Hum sab milkar kaam karenge aur desh ko mazboot banaenge’. (We are brothers. It is not right to fight with each other. We will work together to strengthen the nation).”
SCBA President Vikas Singh said the Centre “cannot be seen violating the rule of the law” with respect to appointment of judges.
The event was attended by Supreme Court judges, Attorney General R. Venkataramani, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta as well as members of the Bar.
Since 2015, November 26 is observed as Constitution Day to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly in 1949. Earlier, the day was observed as Law Day.