CJI designate Justice Bobde
By Abhishek Anshu, Manohar Lal & Sanjeev Kumar
NEW DELHI :
CHIEF Justice of India designate Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde on Wednesday said he is not in favour of disclosing the deliberations of the Supreme Court’s Collegium on rejection of names for higher judiciary, saying it is not a question of secrecy but the right to privacy. Justice Bobde , who will become the 47th CJI on November 18 succeeding Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said a conservative approach on the issue of disclosing the entire deliberations of the Collegium was necessary as “people’s reputation are at stake” and it cannot be sacrificed just to satisfy the desire of citizens to know.
The statement by Justice Bobde, who was part of a nine judge Constitution bench which declared right to privacy as a fundamental right, assumes significance in the wake of a growing clamour for more transparency in the functioning of the apex court’s Collegium. Justice Bobde, 63, also rued the criticism of judges on social media for their judicial actions and said most of the judges, who are not “thick skinned”, get perturbed. “I still think that we need to be conservative. The reason is that people’s reputation is at stake. We need to be conservative. Half of the complaints which come are not true.Iam saying half as a phrase. And I think that the collegium and the court should be conservative in these matters,” he told PTI in an exclusive interview,aday after he was appointed as the next CJI.
Justice Bobde, who will have a tenure of over 17 months as the CJI and is due to retire on April 23, 2021, was responding to a question whether any steps are required to make the Collegium’s functioning more transparent. “So when you weigh this (privacy) against the need of a citizen, who has nothing to do with him, to know.... If you weigh this against the ordinary curiosity. For an ordinary person, itis a kind of curiosity that he wants to know. If you weigh these two, then it is important to be conservative than to disclose everything,” he said.
Batting forthe right to privacy of those who have not been selected by the Collegium for appointment or elevation as judges in the higher judiciary, he said they also have a“life to live”and why should their negative details be put in public domain. “It is not a question of secrecy but question of privacy. I am not saying that we should resort back to older method but I am saying a recentdecision was taken by the Collegium that we would give the name so fall those only who we are appointed and not of those who are rejected or reasons for rejection,” Justice Bobde said. For the first time in the history of judiciary,the then CJI Dipak Misra had in 2017 taken a decision to make public the recommendations of the Collegiumon the apex court’s website.