Law Minister Present, Chief Justice’s Big Remark On Collegium System

The Chief Justice said the lawyers’ strike makes “consumers of justice suffer”.

New Delhi:

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, who has agreed to meet lawyers of the Gujarat High Court striking over a judge’s transfer, on Saturday said that the strike makes “consumers of justice suffer”.

Speaking at the felicitation function organised by the Bar Council of India (BCI), he backed the collegium system of judicial appointments, saying it takes administrative decisions keeping in view the “national perspective”.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, who was also present at the event, criticised protesting lawyers for seeking to meet the CJI over the transfer case. 

“It can be an individual issue but if it becomes a recurring instance for every decision by the collegium, which is supported by the government, then where will it lead to? The whole dimension will change,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud was elevated to the top judicial post last week, and headed his first collegium meeting on November 16 where he decided to transfer three high court judges — one each from Madras, Gujarat, and Telangana — for administrative reasons. 

The five-member collegium recommended shifting the Madras High Court Acting Chief Justice T Raja to the Rajasthan High Court, while Justice Nikhil S Kariel and Justice A Abhishek Reddy have been proposed to be transferred to the Patna High Court.

Justice Raja was appointed as Additional Judge of Madras High Court on March 31, 2009 and assumed charge as Acting Chief Justice from September 22, 2022.

Justice Nikhil S Kariel is currently a judge at the Gujarat high court, while Justice A Abhishek Reddy is posted at Telangana high court.

Lawyers have been up in arms since, and went on a strike. The CJI has agreed to meet a delegation from the Gujarat bar to discuss the transfer proposal.

The Law Minister said such frequent confrontations are worrying, and all parties must decide what’s good for the institution.

“When I saw lawyers going for the protest…I heard some information that some lawyers are going for some strike on some issues. And in the days to come, these are some of the things which we may see more frequently. We have to think, and we have to decide whether this will be good for the institution,” Mr Rijiiju added.

Gujarat Bar representatives are expected to meet the CJI on Monday over the proposed transfer of Gujarat High Court judge Nikhil Kariel.

CJI Chandrachud on November 9 became the 50th Chief Justice of India. He will have a tenure till November 10, 2024. He succeeded Chief Justice UU Lalit, who retired on November 9.

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