Periodic audit of the judiciary is necessary in a democracy, said the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Chelameswar on Saturday, April 7 evening. He was in conversation with journalist and TV personality Karan Thapar on the role of the judiciary in a democracy.
He would not seek any post-retirement sinecure from any government, he declared. In recent years several judges including former Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, now Governor of Kerala, have accepted positions after their retirement. Justice Chelameswar’s forthright, public declaration is expected to make it a little more difficult for sitting Supreme Court judges to accept positions post-retirement from governments.
Asked by Thapar if it was proper for a Supreme Court judge to give interviews or address press conferences, Justice Chelameswar, who is due to demit office in June, declared that while judges are not expected to give interviews on judgments, they could certainly speak on other issues. Why not, he went on to ask.
Justice Chelameswar and three other Supreme Court judges, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, had addressed an unprecedented press conference in January and released their letter to CJI Dipak Misra. They had then voiced their unhappiness over the CJI ignoring the senior judges and the manner in which cases were being allocated to different benches.
In a letter to the CJI last month, Justice Chelameswar had also complained of growing interference in the judiciary by the Government and the CJI’s inability to resist such interference.
On Saturday, Justice Chelameswar revealed that he was not aware if and when the Government got back to the Supreme Court on a screening mechanism before appointment of judges. Implicit in his statement is confirmation that either the Government has not responded to the apex court’s proposals or, if it has, the Chief Justice of India has not taken the collegium comprising the senior most judges into confidence.