Former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi
Former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi

The problem lies with the individuals, why do you blame the system? Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi on the Collegium System

The former judge made the remark while speaking on the theme of Judicial Independence during a Webinar hosted by the CAN foundation on Wednesday afternoon.

Meera Emmanuel

Former Chief Justice of India, and current Rajya Sabha member Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday asserted that there was nothing wrong with the Collegium system of judicial appointments and transfers.

Speaking on the theme of Judicial Independence during a Webinar hosted by the Confederation of Alumni for National Law Universities (CAN) Foundation, the former CJI said,

We have a system that is working fine. The problem is not with the system. The problem may be, if there is one, is with the individuals who are running the system. Again, the problem necessarily may not be with the Collegium judges. The problems will come from outside the Collegium, but within the judicial fraternity. Beyond that, I don’t think I should say anything.

“The problem lies with the individuals, why do you blame the system?”
Ranjan Gogoi on the Collegium system

He went on to note that while he was part of the Collegium System, 14 names were recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court. He added that these recommendations were accepted and appointments were made in time. There was never any difficulty, he said.

He went on to remark that all recommendations made for the appointment of 24-25 Chief Justices of High Courts were also processed in time, and that there was no executive interference over the same.

In this backdrop, he queried "What is the problem?"

He went on to comment that the perception that one Judge is better suited than another is an individual perception. If between two good judges, the Collegium favours one and the public feels the other was a better choice, it would not make the system itself bad, Gogoi said.

"The Collegium is an excellent system... It has stood the test of time. Perhaps, some amount of self-restraint, discipline, greater responsibility from all who are associated with the Collegium system ... may make it work better.
Ranjan Gogoi

He added, "There will always be a section of people who will not be satisfied. The idea is not to satisfy anybody. The idea is to be true to the law and the Constitution as assigned to the judges."

During the Question & Answer session, Gogoi came back to this topic when the controversy over non-disclosure of reasons for transferring judges was raised.

While speaking on why reasons for judicial transfers are generally not disclosed, the former CJI also referred to a "the transfer of a Chief Justice" where the reasons allegedly related to conduct, character and dubious financial transactions.

"If I were to upload those reasons, God knows what would happen", Gogoi remarked. He added that even if the reasons were disclosed, the criticism is unlikely to cease. In such a scenario, he observed that critics may take to objecting to the reasons and opine that the Collegium had acted "whimsically" or arbitrarily.

He went on to comment that such administrative tasks give judges little comfort. Gogoi said, "It's a very painful duty. It affects your sleep, your mental peace.. These are not seats of power. The seat of a judge doing administrative work is not a seat of power or comfort or of indulgence. it is a seat of duty."

As he closed his remarks on the issue, the former judge urged against extraneous criticism, stating, "We still have people of great wisdom... on the Bench. Let them flourish, let them do their work. Don't dishearten them. Support them."

Corrigendum: An erroneous reference was earlier made to a "Madras transfer" in the article. The error has been corrected and is regretted.

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