The long-standing system of a collegium of judges appointing judges of the Supreme Court and high courts has lost popularity among jurists themselves, who said in a meeting on Monday that the system should be scrapped.
"The predominant view is in favour of changing the collegium system. The government will decide what to do next," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told NDTV after the review meeting called by the NDA government to review the collegium system.
Former CJIs V N Khare and A M Ahmadi, Law Commission Chairman Justice A P Shah, constitutional experts Fali Nariman, K K Venugopal and Upendra Baxi, former Attorney Generals Soli Sorabjee, K Parasaran and Ashok Desai, and senior lawyers Anil Diwan, Shanti Bhushan and KTS Tulsi were among those who attended, according to news reports.
The issue of corruption in judicial appointments has been a burning one ever since former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju revealed the unscrupulous appointment of an additional judge in the Madras High Court under political pressure under the UPA government.
Katju revealed that even after an inquiry had shown the judge's corrupt credentials, he was given another year as an additional judge by a Supreme Court collegium headed by then Chief Justice of India RC Lahoti due to pressure from a Tamil Nadu party.
The issue led to a huge uproar in the Parliament, and the Modi government said it would look into pushing the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill to replace the collegiums system of appointments.
The news that Karnataka High Court Judge KL Manjunath, who is being backed by a Supreme Court collegium to promote him as the chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, is allegedly involved in a tainted land deal further lends credence to the decision to do away with the collegium system.
According to Hindustan Times, Manjunath had illegally bought a prime plot from a housing society in 2004 and also presided over cases involving the society. The Supreme Court collegium had recently decided to go ahead and elevate Manjunath as the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court putting away the centre's recommendation to reconsider the move.