In the clear wave of corruption, new revelations of Katju on the old system of judiciary selection has opened a new debate. Former Justice Katju, a highly renowned judge has accused most of the chief Justices of India (CJI) for being reluctant to expose corruption, as it shall defame the judiciary. He has raised questions regarding the composition of the panel which selects judiciary. Whether the new bill passed by the recently elected government to bring change in the old collegium system will be successful in curbing down corruption or not is still uncertain.
Justice Katju, a strong condemner of casteism and communalism, and author of several books like Mimansa Rules of Interpretation, has been in the limelight for several controversial remarks.
The alleged people whom Katju points out are CJI H S Kapadia and R C Lahoti. He blames Kapadia for his inaction against corrupt judge of Allahabad and Lahoti for stopping him from taking action against corrupt judges of Allahabad High Court. Also, he accused Karunanidhi, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who was in power in 2004 for forcing UPA to back corrupt judge of madras high court. This political backing was accepted by the government in power to maintain support from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Party (DMK).
Though as a counter response, Katju has been criticized by many people for false accusations. DMK’s M Karunanidhi, renounced all the accusations of Katju by calling them “blatant lies”. On contrary, the organizing secretary R S Bharathi of DMK has asked Katju to give details of his wealth. According to Bharati, Katju’s attacks are personal and these allegations defame their leaders.
According to a high court practitioner “I don’t think Katju was waiting for the UPA to get ousted so as to come up with these allegations and revelations. The timing might hold importance to some but in my opinion this thing had to come out in the open at some point. It was inevitable.”
Also, the present government is keen to scrap the collegium system as it has passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha to establish a six-member body for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts.
On the day of introduction of the bill, CJI RM Lodha on Monday defended the existing mechanism as he lashed out at the unfair and “misleading campaign” to defame the judiciary. “There is a misleading campaign to defame the judiciary and repeated attempts have been made to spread incorrect information. This campaign has been doing great damage to a very important organ of the democracy.” said he. Earlier the judiciary was independent but with the new bill, there would be direct interference of political parties in the workings of the judiciary.
But how relevant are these revelations of katju is the question his critics are asking. Is it done just to score brownie points with the new government or these accusations really hold a ground. All in all, Katju has opened a can of worms and it will be a herculean task for the newly elected government to save the third pillar of democracy from being tarnished.