Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Naked In The Khan Market

Judiciary must change its mindset. With lifting veil on collegium recommendation it has started but a lot is yet to be done. It should continue.
It was Chhattisgarh High Court that led the way in the change of mindset but later stepped back. Here are some steps that were done and should be adopted by judiciary.

Many of the steps taken at the Chhattisgarh High Court, mentioned in the piece below, are recorded here

Transparency is key to the good governance: better the transparency, lesser are the chances of arbitrariness and unreasonableness. The latest step to lift veil on Collegium recommendation is a welcome sign but a lot is to be done and judiciary has to change its mind set.  In this regard, the Chhattisgarh High Court had led the way in 2012-14 but alas it was undone later.

Chhattisgarh High Court is a small court. It has no administrative committee. Every decision is taken by the full court. It became the first court ever, where full court minutes were uploaded on its website. Some decisions are taken by the Chief Justice on the recommendations of the different committees. These decisions were also uploaded on the website if so recommended by the committee and approved by the Chief Justice. 

The result of the aforesaid steps was that almost all decisions were made public except those that related to LTC and medical expenses of the Judges as they fall within zone of  privacy. 

The names for elevation from the Bar were recommended for elevation, not only after consulting every sitting judge but also all designated senior advocates and the President Bar Association as well.  
The Chhattisgarh High Court Collegium also considered the question of putting collegium recommendations on the website but decided against it as they were to be considered by the SC and at that time, the Supreme Court was zealously guarding its confidentiality.

Chhattisgarh High Court also became the first court where the assets of not only the High Court Judges but the District judiciary as well as class-I and class-II non-judicial officers of the entire State were put on its website. 

Not everyone approved these steps.

There was a meeting with an important Supreme Court judge. He criticised the steps by saying that it was like going naked in the Khan Market. It was explained to him that there can be bonafide difference of opinion as many think that the steps taken by the Chhattisgarh High Court clothe the judiciary with credibility, sincerity and transparency: this in turns generates confidence among the public about judiciary. 

Unfortunately,  in the later years, the old mindset prevailed in the Chhattisgarh High Court and these steps  were rolled back.

The decision by the present Supreme Court Collegium is a welcome sign and is a step in the right direction: such steps should continue. And,  with due apologies to Robert Frost, we should not forget, 
'The Courts are enshrined with justice, credibility, and transparency,
But judiciary has promises to keep,
And miles to go before it achieves its goals.'
 #YatindraSingh, Yatindra SinghYatindra Singh

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