Though appointments of nearly 400 judges to the High Courts was one of the biggest tasks before the collegium headed by him, newly appointed Chief Justice T S Thakur today said he would commence the process only after the constitution bench delivered its judgment on how to improve the system ane remove flaws.
The CJI was skeptical about the apex court's Constitution Bench's nod that the collegium can go ahead with appointment of judges in higher judiciary till it delivered its order on the issue of improving the existing mechanism. “They (Bench) said that the collegium can proceed. They did not say that collegium should proceed. Personally, I would like to wait for the judgement”, Justice Thakur said during an informal interaction with media persons at his official residence.
He was answering a query about the high-voltage proceedings on the issue of collegium system and pendency of vacancies. The CJI said he would also like to know the views of the presiding judges of the bench as to how I am expected to work on the issue
“CANNOT HURRY WITH APPOINTMENTS”
“It won't be prudent to go ahead right now. A bench is examining on how to improve the system. if we go ahead now it will be like we don’t care..people will say it seems we are in a hurry. They gave the green signal you proceed. But should we proceed? that is the question”, justice Thakur said.
wading into the raging row on intolerance, CJI said it is a political issue and that there is no need to fear till the judiciary is independent and the rule of law prevails.
“Yeh siyasi pahlu hain (this is a political issue). We have a rule of law. So long as rule of law is there, so long as there is an independent judiciary and so long as courts are upholding the rights and obligations, I do not think anyone has to fear for anything”, the CJI said .
“I am heading the institution which upholds the rule of law and the rights of every citizens will be protected... I think, we are capable of protecting the rights of all sections of people. My institution is capable of upholding the rights of citizens”, Justice Thakur said.
“INTOLERANT ON CORRUPTION”
Thakur said rooting out corruption in judiciary which has “maligned its image” will be his one of his top priorities. “I will take appropriate action against judges who show deviant behaviou. Judiciary will be intolerant towards deviant behaviour of judges. Credibility of institution has to be of utmost importanc”, he said.
Corruption in the judiciary and the need to uproot it were intermittently debated in last five years when former Kolkata HC judge Soumitra Sen became the first judge in the country to be impeached by the Rajya Sabha for misappropriation of funds in 2011. There was also charges of corruption against Former CJI K G Balakrishnan and several others like P.D. Dinakaran Shamit Mukherjee and Nirmal Yadav
Amidst the row over Nirbhaya case juvenile’s impending release, the CJI said he was of the view that juveniles who have committed heinous offences should get harsh punishment rather than 3 years in a special home as per the present rules. “A bill is pending in the parliament and we are waiting for its outcome. We have kept some files pertaining to gruesome acts by juvenile pending because of it. We know there cannot be retrospective effect but we will get some kind of roadmap on how to proceed with it.
Aiming to curb crimes by minors, the the Lok Sabha has cleared an amendment to the Juvenile Justice act which will give Juvenile Justice Board the power to decide if a minor between the ages of 16 and 18, accused of heinous crimes like rape and murder, should be tried as adults in a regular court. They, however, cannot be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Under the Bill, the Juvenile Board will conduct an assessment of factors including the "premeditated nature" of the offence and "the child's ability to understand the consequences of the offence". The bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha.