The Supreme Court is due to hear on Monday a plea seeking the setting up of a “public body”, independent of the executive and judiciary, to ensure fair appointment of judges in High Courts and the apex court and check nepotism.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud took up the matter after it was mentioned by advocate Mathews J Nedumpara seeking urgent listing.
The PIL, filed by National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms and its office bearers, alleged that that the “common deserving lawyers” are usually not considered for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary and that those close to the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts or politicians or big industrial houses only got chosen.
“In the eyes of the Petitioners, what is paramount is a system of appointment of Judges independent of both the executive and the judiciary,” it said.
Alleging nepotism in the selection of judges, the plea said the existing system has appointed the “kith and kin of sitting and former Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, their juniors, celebrated lawyers, Chief Ministers, Governors and a few first generation lawyers who are all politically connected or are close to big industrial houses.”
The plea said the mechanism of appointment of judges, independent of the executive and the judiciary, was “killed” even before it was allowed to take birth by the judgment in the NJAC case.
“No mechanism in substitution thereof, which will provide for a just, fair, open and non-discriminatory selection and appointment of Judges from a diverse and wider pool of candidates than the traditional ones, namely, the kith and kin of Judges, their near and dear ones, has been brought into existence…”, the PIL claimed.
It alleged the fundamental right of being considered for such appointment of ordinary lawyers has been infringed in the wake of quashing of National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act and enabling 99th constitutional amendment by the Supreme Court.
The plea also said that there was no effective mechanism to address complaints of misconduct against judges.
The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2012 introduced in Parliament, remained in “cold storage” as the judges were not “forthcoming to welcome” it.