Why should chief justice abstain: Moily

Interview

M Veerappa Moily

Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily is unequivocal in his argument that members of the Bar shall uphold the rule of law at any cost and under all circumstances. He is equally unambiguous that the authority of judges and the judiciary cannot be questioned. And the Union Government is in the process of bringing in a comprehensive legislation to remove any doubts regarding the process of judges appointment, he says in an exclusive interview with B S Arun of Sunday Spotlight.  

Is it justified when advocates resort to strike and indulge in violence, that too in court premises?

Advocates should always be champions of rule of law. They should help the judiciary arrive at judgements. They have a great role to play in the judicial system but taking law into their own hands is not contemplated as an ingredient of rule of law. Nobody can justify it (such behaviour). Our judiciary is still one of the best in the world. If faith in our constitutional authorities like parliament and judiciary is eroded, democracy will be in peril. Advocates are among those who should participate in strengthening constitutional authorities.
 
In the context of the unruly behaviour of protesting lawyers, is the appointment of judges…

As for appointment of judges and chief justices (CJs), be it of high courts (HCs) or the Supreme Court (SC), there is a well-laid out process. There is a collegium at the state level in the HCs which forwards its recommendation to the chief minister and the governor of that state, which is then sent to the Union law ministry. It then goes to the Justice department (now part of Home ministry) and finally reaches the chief justice of India (CJI). The collegium also processes and makes due inquiry, consults the judges who have served in that HC and comes back to the government. The Law ministry processes and forwards it to the prime minister and after that it is sent to the President. It is not that any appointment is done abruptly without application of mind.
As for appointment of SC judges, the SC collegium considers names and recommends to the Law ministry, which processes and sends the list to the PM and then to the President. At every point, the issues are discussed threadbare and filtered. There is a sound process and accountability involved.
While appointing the CJ of HC, senior SC judges consider it first. Then they recommend to the Law ministry which forwards the file to the PM and to the President. The procedure is followed with utmost responsibility.

If any recommendation is vetted by the masses, then what will happen?

Judges are not elected but their appointment is a well tested and respected method between the executive and judiciary. The Judges Inquiry Act deals with impeachment and Parliament decides. With an intention to remove any doubts about the process of judges’ appointment, we are bringing in a comprehensive Bill – Judges Standards and Accountability Bill – by repealing the Judges Inquiry Act.

The Advocacy Act says that lawyers can only abstain and cannnot protest or obstruct court proceedings .

Yes, otherwise it amounts to interfering in the process of law and justice. The authority of the judges and of the judiciary cannot be questioned like that. Only Parliament can question. If there is enough evidence, Parliament is the best forum to handle it. If lawyers take law into their own hands, they are not respecting the rule of law.

Should CJ Dinakaran abstain from court proceedings?

Why should he? What are the legal reasons? He cannot abstain from court proceedings for extraneous reasons.

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