Wrong to say collegium system lacks transparency: CJI DY Chandrachud

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Monday defended the collegium system of judges appointing judges to the higher judiciary, asserting that steps have been taken to ensure greater transparency.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, the CJI said it is very easy to criticise the process but every effort is being made by the collegium to ensure the due process of consultation is followed before the appointment of a judge.

“To say that collegium system is lacking in transparency would not be correct. We have taken steps to ensure that greater transparency is maintained. A sense of objectivity in the decision-making process is maintained. But I must also share something and that’s my caveat. When we consider judges for the appointment in Supreme Court, we are dealing with the careers of the sitting judges of the High Court.

“Therefore the deliberations that take place within the collegium can’t be put out in the public realm for a variety of reasons. Many of our discussions are on the privacy of those judges who are under consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court. Those deliberations, if they have to take place in a free and candid atmosphere, can’t be the subject matter of video recording or documentation. That is not the system which the Indian Constitution has adopted,” Chandrachud said.

The CJI said keeping in mind the diverse society, it is also important that we learn to trust our decision making process.

“It is very easy to criticise the process but now that I have been part of the process for several years I can share with you that every effort is being made by our judges to ensure due process of consultation is made before the appointment of a judge,” he said.

Chandrachud said as the Chief Justice of India he was bound by the Constitution and by the law laid down by the top court interpreting it.

“We have the collegium system for the appointment of judges which has now been part of our jurisprudence since 1993 and that is the system that we implement. But having said that, it is equally our duty as present members of the collegium system to maintain and make it more transparent. To make it more objective. And we have taken steps, decisive steps in that regard.

“All resolutions of the collegium are put on the website so that people know the decisions we take. And that promotes transparency. We have again put in the public realm the parameters which the collegium applies in the selection of judges to the Supreme Court. And many of the parameters apply in high courts,” he said.

Chandrachud said the Supreme Court’s Centre for Research and Planning assists the collegium in compiling data about judges who are in the zone of consideration, and it prepares a comprehensive document which is circulated among members of the collegium which helps them in evaluating judges whose names come up for consideration.