Informal communication with the government and the College before recommending names for the appointment of judges is a threat to the independence of the judiciary, said senior lawyer CS Vaidyanathan.
“There are rumors – and I hope they are not true – that the Collegium thinks it will only send recommendations if they are accepted by the government. This is a very dangerous proposition,” Vaidyanathan said, speaking at the second MK Nambyar Memorial Lecture, hosted by SASTRA University in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
Chief Justice of India UU Lalit delivered the lecture. Former Attorney General KK Vengopal, former Supreme Court Justices Santosh Hegde and BN Srikrishna were among those present. A Senior Solicitor General and former Additional Solicitor General of India, Vaidyanathan began his career with Venugopal and served as the lead counsel representing Ram Lalla, the deity in the Ayodhya title litigation case.
“I hope that will never happen because if it is true, it necessarily means informal consultation beforehand. It would mean negating the independence of the judiciary and judgment of the NJAC,” he said.
Vaidyanathan said it would be better to “review the decision of NJAC” by a wider bench and officially give the government a foot in the door rather than consulting it informally.
Vaidyanathan’s remarks come against the backdrop of the division within the Collegium over the recommendation of names to the Supreme Court. In a public statement, the CJI Lalit-led Collegium said Oct. 9 that it had decided to “close” further stages regarding the “unfinished” elevation movement, after the Collegium was split 3:2 on the recommendation of four names.
The statement acknowledged that the CJI’s proposal to recommend names through a “written note” instead of a formal meeting was agreed by Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, but opposed by Justices DY Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer.