Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud (CJI) on Friday said that no institution is hundred percent perfect in a Constitutional democracy and the Collegium system which is followed for appointing judges, cannot be singled out. The CJI in his speech said that merely reforming Collegium system or increasing the salary of judges will not ensure that good, qualified people join the bench. Judges, he said, are faithful soldiers who implement the Constitution he said in response to the recent criticisms levelled against Collegium from various quarters.

“I thought I will reserve best for the last. No institution in a constitutional democracy is perfect. We work within the existing framework of the constitution and we are faithful soldiers who implement the Constitution,” he said. When we talk of imperfections our solution is to work our way within the existing system, he added. He was speaking at the Constitution Day celebrations organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). The CJI in his speech said that merely reforming Collegium system or increasing the salary of judges will not ensure that good, qualified people join the bench.

“Getting good people in judiciary is not just about reforming the collegium… Getting to be judges is not how much salary you give judges. However, high you pay judges it will be fraction of what lawyers make in one day,” he said. Instead lawyers joining the bench as judges is a call of conscience and a commitment to public service, he said.“The answer lies in mentoring young people and giving them a dream to become a judge; not to have the government car or house. That is the least important part as its all transient and it will all leave one day. One thing that cannot be taken away even on retirement is the sense of fulfilment,” he said.

In this regard, he highlighted how he got an email from women commanders in the Indian Navy in May 2020 when he was down with COVID-19. “Those women commanders told me, ‘You never met us in person, but the justice you did for us, we are praying for your recovery’. That is the greatest satisfaction of being judge,” he said. A bench headed by Justice Chandrachud had delivered a landmark judgment in February 2020 granting Permanent Commission to women officers in armed forces.

Thus, the judge on Friday said that system has to make the office of a judge appealing to young lawyers.“It is not just about giving better salaries….We have to make the judicial office appealable to the younger members of the bar,” he underlined.

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