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Go in a burqa to know what people say of judges, SC told

NEW DELHI, June 18, 2015, DHNS 1:42 IST
Supreme Court . DH File Photo
A Supreme Court bench hearing the validity of the NJAC Act was on Wednesday subject to a “lecture” on the declining standards of judges in the country.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave asked the judges to wear a “burqa” and move in a corridor to ascertain how “disgraceful” judges have become.

Dave, who was too acerbic in his attack on the judiciary, slammed the collegium system of appointment while arguing that it worked on a “give-and-take principle” and reflected “an amount of arrogance” that only judges could decide on their own appointments.

“First you grab power and then say that it is not justiciable. What we have seen in the collegium cannot be digested. It is unthinkable that Constitutional scheme (collegium) would emerge from the judgement of the court,” Dave submitted before a five-judge Constitution bench, hearing a batch of PILs challenging validity of the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act. “Today nobody knows what happens in the collegium. Where do we ventilate our views, it has become impossible to get any redressal. Letters sent to the chief justices are not responded to. Besides, young lawyers get humiliated everyday in the courts,” he said.

Dave gave example of Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya, then chief justice of Gujarat High Court, who was not elevated because he did not agree to the elevation of the sister of an Supreme Court judge.

He told the bench presided over by Justice J S Khehar: “I would request you to wear a burqa and walk in the corridor someday, you will get to know how disgraceful judges have become.”

To his remark, the bench said, “Judges are appointed from bar only”. “But selected by the collegium,” Dave retorted. Dave said that there are good lawyers from various high courts practising in the Supreme Court but the collegium never thought of consulting them before making appointment of judges.

“I want the court to introspect. Some of the finest judges in the country was appointed when collegium was not in place. Every time, we raise our voice, we are told where is the material. Give me Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), we will produce material. Today, there is no monitoring. The Intelligence Bureau will give you self-serving reports,” he said.

‘Not one-way traffic’
The Supreme Court Bar Association president also said that it is the Bar which would stand for the judges. Look at Pakistan, the ousted chief justice was backed by the entire Bar of the country, it can’t be one-way traffic, he added.

After hearing Dave for an hour, the bench observed: “You gave us lecture, why don't you tell us how the present system could be improved. Should we consult those lawyers who continue to appear before us.” To this the bar association president said he would file it in writing.

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