Every govt tried to influence judiciary: Chelameswar

Every govt tried to influence judiciary: Chelameswar

Justice J Chelameswar, the senior-most Supreme Court judge who demitted office on Friday, said that every government tried to influence judiciary but its independence is a necessity for a democratic system.

The outgoing judge, who led three other senior judges to an unprecedented press conference on January 12, said he did not regret it. He said the decision to go public on the functioning of the apex court had nothing to do with any particular case such as Judge Loya’s death or the medical college's scam. Nor was it against any individual.

He strongly favored rationalisation of allocation of cases.

“Certain amount of rationalisation of the process is required. On what basis the cases are distributed? Is it by pure lottery? Or is there a rational pattern by which cases are distributed? There has to be some process,” he said.

Justice Chelameswar, at the same time, maintained that the principle that Chief Justice of India was the master of the roster was never questioned as somebody will have to organise the institution. “The question is how is that power exercised? That was the question we raised (in the press conference),” he told television channels.

Speaking on a range of issues that triggered controversy in the top judiciary, he said the nature of power is such that men in power always tried to control judiciary. He also ruled that, of late, the credibility of the institution had been damaged due to a series of events.

“Every government, be it this government or any other government would like to have some control in the judiciary. Even in the best of democracies, in the American system, we have seen how then-President Franklin D Roosevelt said 'pack the court',” he said.

Untenable reasons

On pending elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph, Justice Chelameswar said, “I do feel sorry that a good judge could not come to the Supreme Court in spite of my best efforts. It is unfortunate that a good judge has not come so far.” He also described as untenable the reasons cited by the government for returning the recommendation of Justice Joseph.

“I have put my views on the record before the Collegium. It is now pending with the Collegium and, therefore, I would not want to further comment on it,” he added.

Justice Chelameswar, who gave a dissenting judgment on the National Judicial Appointments Commission, said that the Collegium system required more transparency. He also said that he would neither join any political party nor ever enter electoral politics.

After ending his tenure as judge, Justice Chelameswar vacated his bungalow and left for his hometown Vijayawada.