Justice Madan B Lokur, former Supreme Court judge, today said that he was disappointed that the collegium decisions of December 12 were not uploaded.
“Once we take certain decisions, they have to be uploaded. I’m disappointed that they were not”, he said, while speaking to journalist Rajdeep Sardesai at an event organized by “The Leaflet” the Constitutional Club of India, New Delhi
His emphatic reply came on being repeatedly prodded by Sardesai to open up about the circumstances which led to the overturn of the December 12 decision to elevate Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon. Sardesai mentioned that the public impression was that the decisions got revoked due to the retirement of Justice Lokur on December 30.
Justice Lokur said that he was not privy to the “additional material” which led the collegium to recommend on January 10 the names of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna.
Sardesai probed about the workings of collegium system and inquired if there was any nepotism in practise. To this, Justice Lokur replied, “Not in my experience”.
Disagreeing with Sardesai, Justice Lokur said that the collegium system was not a failure. But he acknowledged that it needed some “tweaking”. He also remarked that what happens in the Collegium is done in confidence, hence he was “not going to betray anyone’s trust” by disclosing what is discussed.
On press conference.
“What did the press conference achieve? Was it worth it?”, asked Sardesai, looking back at the historic press conference held by Justices Chelameswar, Kurian Joseph, Lokur and the present CJI Gogoi on January 12, over a year ago.
Justice Lokur said that “it was worth it” and added that it did achieve certain changes. It brought in certain degree of openness in the system, he said.
Judicial Corruption
Sardesai remarked that the judges should have addressed grave issues like judicial corruption in the press conference.
Justice Lokur however maintained reticence on the query. He asked Sardesai to give the names of corrupt judges. Responding to this, Sardesai said that he would not want to risk contempt notice from the court by taking names, and would rather have the likes of Advocate Prashant Bhushan to take up the issue.
At this, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising raised of in-house proceedings against Justice Shukla of Allahabad HC. Prashant Bhushan also weighed in from the audience, mentioning that a HC judge, against whom corruption allegations were raised by a sitting Supreme Court judge, was being considered for elevation.
On Post retirement jobs
Justice Lokur pointed out that many laws required tribunals and statutory bodies to be headed by retired judges. So, a decision by all judges to refuse post-retirement appointments will bring things to a standstill. Otherwise law needs to be changed.
On post-retirement appointments
“Many statutes require Tribunals and quasi judicial bodies to be headed by retired judges. If all retired judges decide not to take up such appointments, how will things work”, says Justice Lokur
On PM Modi’s dinner visit.
Justice Lokur sounded dismissive about the hype regarding PM Modi paying a visit to a dinner hosted by the CJI, and later making a visit to Court room no.1
He pointed out that it was an international function with dignitaries from other countries. “Too much was being read into it”, he said.
When a member in the audience asked why the SC has not appointed any Dalit judge over the past 8 years, Justice Lokur said that there was no one senior enough to be elevated.
Justice Lokur also acknowledged that the judiciary has overstepped at time, much like legislature and executive, while responding to a query by Sardesai whether Courts should concern itself with issues like running BCCI administration.