The Collegium system for appointment of judges to High Courts and the Supreme Court is better than the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) which was mooted by the Central government in 2015, former Chief Justice of India UU Lalit (CJI) said last week. .The NJAC was largely an outsider body when it came to knowledge about judiciary while Collegium comprises of judges who would know the candidates in and out, the CJI opined. Judges to High Courts are appointed either from the district judiciary or from amongst lawyers practicing before the concerned High Court, he elaborated.“Because of the subordination of courts, the high court had always been in control of the district judiciary and was aware of the kind of talent they had. Through appellate or revisional proceedings, they see the kind of judgements that are written, so they test the ability (of the district judge) day in and day out. Their promotions, posting, everything is done by the High Court. So they are the best lot to be aware of what kind of talent is in store in the district judiciary,” Justice Lalit said. Similarly, the High Court judges would be aware of the capabilities of the lawyers who appear before them from the Bar. “Naturally judges over a period of time have tremendous amount of idea or exposure to see the talent that practices before them. They are well aware about where exactly the advocate or the counsel before them stands,” he said. Finally, he also pointed out that since the Chief Justice of the High Court, who heads the High Court collegium, is normally from outside the State, it also ensures that there is an element of objectivity. “That is precisely why, rather than any outsider, like a political executive, judicial organs or persons from the judiciary are better equipped to judge the talent. And that is why, I always maintain collegium system is better of the two” the judge said..The former CJI was speaking on the topic “What Is Slowing India’s Judicial System” at the Times Now Summit 2022..Justice Lalit was asked if a democratic nation ought to have such a “closed system” like Collegium which is not answerable to anybody but themselves when it came to appointment of judges.He responded by stating that if there were any issues or “wrinkles (in the system) which needed to be ironed out”, the Court would consider the same as and when the occasion demanded. He acknowledged that it was only India probably which has a unique idea where the judges appointed their own successors. He also said that as a judge of a Court, which upholds Constitution and which had upheld the Collegium system, he was obliged to work under that system..The judge was also asked to clarify if the judiciary was being hypocritical when it recently criticised the appointment process of the Chief Election Commissioner while questions pertaining to appointment process of judiciary were unanswered. He was asked about the ‘tension’ that existed between the government and the judiciary.To this, Justice Lalit at the outset denied the existence of any ‘tension’ between the two wings. The Court, he said, is “obliged and duty bound” to go into issues that are raised before it, and merely because questions are asked did not mean there was ‘tension’.“If the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner is challenged on the ground of certain issues, then the Court is obliged to put those questions to the government. Merely because those questions are put doesn't mean that there is a tension. That is a typical way of eliciting answers and the Supreme Court is certainly entitled and duty bound to do that,” the judge said.