New Delhi: 

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has said that motives being attributed to judges on Supreme Court rulings is “disturbing” and will prevent young people from going for the top legal post, breaking his silence in an exclusive interview to NDTV.

“Criticise judgements, point out legal flaws. But attacking judges who wrote the judgements and attributing motives is very disturbing. Mud-slinging against judges is a dangerous trend. Talented young people do not want to become judges because of mud-slinging. It is difficult to attract younger people to judgeship,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told NDTV.

“They (young people) say we are earning well, why should we become Judges and have mud thrown at us. It affects our families. So the real cream do not want to become judges.”

Justice Gogoi also spoke for the first time on the controversy over judges’ appointments and changes in recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium or the judges’ panel that decides on the appointment and transfer of judges. “This is not unusual. Only when we send the collegium decision to the government does our decision becomes a resolution and it is uploaded on the website. If we have changed a decision before sending it to the government, it means there are some reasons which I cannot divulge,” said the top judge.

“The collegium overlooking seniority is not unusual. It is wrong to say bargaining happens in the collegium,” he said, referring to the controversy over the dropping of two high court chief justices and their replacement with two other names after the new collegium met after the retirement of Justice Madan Lokur.

“There are number of occasions seniority has been overlooked for merit…It is not unusual and it is happening over the years,” Justice Gogoi said.

Justice Gogoi also said it was wrong to say that the government is stalling judges’ appointments. “No. Not at all. It is rather the other way round. People think it is the government keeping the files. Only 30 proposals for appointment are with the government. Also, the government clears appointments quickly,” he said, adding that around 65 proposals sent back to the collegium were pending.

“I have told the Prime Minister not to sit on our recommendations…when we send recommendations do not sit over it. If you have any issues send it to us. Recently whatever recommendations sent by us were cleared in just a couple of days,” said the Chief Justice.

He also tackled the allegation that collegium Judges negotiate and bargain among themselves to appoint their own men.

“It is totally wrong. My candidate, your candidate – it has never been like that. I came into the collegium in November 2016 and it has never happened. Collegium meetings held in almost dignified way,” he said.

On a personal note, Justice Gogoi also spoke on appearing “short-tempered” in the courtroom. “I do not have to please anybody. I am not a diplomat or politician to please anyone with a smile. I do what I think right…and I can be wrong. If someone talks nonsense what should I do,” he remarked.

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