New Delhi: Former Chief Justice of India Justice U U Lalit on Saturday said the collegium system of appointment of judges is a model that is “foolproof”.

Speaking at an event on “Judicial Appointment and Reforms” organized by the “Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms” (CJAR), Justice Lalit said a rigorous process is involved in recommending names for judges of constitutional courts.

“According to me, we don’t have a system better than the collegium system. If we don’t have anything qualitatively better than the collegium system, naturally, we must work towards making it possible that this collegium system survives. Today the model as per which we work is a near-perfect model,” the ex-CJI said.

Justice Lalit, who retires in November 2022, said the judiciary is in a better position to decide on the merit of potential candidates as they have seen their work over the years.

“When the matter reaches the SC collegium, there is a fully perfect situation, whether the name is accepted or not to be accepted. It’s not as if it is a whimsical exercise taken by someone. It’s a foolproof arrangement,” he said.

The collegium system where sitting judges appoint judges to constitutional courts has become a major source of contention between the judiciary and the government. Wading into the debate over the collegium system, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar recently said by scrapping the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), which was established by an Act of parliament, the Supreme Court severely compromised parliamentary sovereignty and disregarded the mandate of the people.

The NJAC Act, which sought to overturn the collegium system of appointing Supreme Court and high court judges, was struck down by the top court which termed it unconstitutional.

Mr. Dhankhar’s remarks came amid frequent run-ins between the government and the judiciary. Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has often criticized the collegium system over its alleged opaqueness and called it alien to the Constitution.

A bench of the apex court recently wondered whether the collegium’s recommendations for the appointment of judges were being stalled by the government after the Supreme Court struck down the NJAC Act that was brought in to replace the collegium system.

By Archana

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