HomeIndia NewsSupreme Court Criticism Of Collegium System

Supreme Court Criticism Of Collegium System

The Bombay Lawyers’ Association (BLA) on Tuesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the dismissal of their public interest litigation (PIL) against Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar. The PIL was dismissed by the Bombay High Court on February 9, 2021, on the grounds that it was not a suitable case for invoking the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The BLA, in its petition, said that both Rijiju and Dhankhar’s remarks reflected a lack of faith in the Constitution. Their conduct has diminished the prestige of the Supreme Court in public eyes, the lawyers’ body said.

The BLA has now urged the Supreme Court to issue orders to restrain Dhankhar and Rijiju from discharging their duties as government officials, reported news agency PTI. The lawyers’ body has accused the two officials of launching a frontal attack not just on the judiciary but the Constitution as well, which, they said, has shaken public faith in the SC and the Constitution, reported news agency IANS.

Rijiju has been criticising the collegium system of appointing judges, describing it as “opaque and not transparent”. Dhankhar, too, questioned the 1973 Kesavananda Bharati judgment recently. It was a landmark verdict that gave the basic structure doctrine. According to Dhankhar the SC order set a “bad precedent”. He said that it would be difficult to say “we are a democratic nation” if some authority questions Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution.

Recently, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said that not every system is perfect, but the current Collegium system is the “best” mechanism developed by the judiciary to maintain its independence.

The BLA has quoted the statements made by the dignitaries at certain functions to support their claims. According to the BLA plea, the Vice-President and the Union Minister were oath-bound to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. “However, their conduct reflected a lack of faith in the Constitution of India,” the BLA said.

According to the BLA, Dhankhar and Rijiju had attacked the institution of judiciary, including the Supreme Court, in the most “derogatory language”, the PTI report stated.  The BLA also urged the Supreme Court to disqualify Rijiju and Dhankhar from the posts of Vice-President and Union Minister, respectively, due to their behaviour and conduct in public.

The high court had earlier dismissed the PIL in February, stating that it was not inclined to grant any relief. However, the BLA hopes that the Supreme Court will consider their petition and provide a favourable verdict in the matter.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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