West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the ‘union government was acting with a motive’ as she weighed in on the issue of the union government writing to the Chief Justice of India for a government representative to be included in the Collegium that selects judges for higher courts. “We want total independence of judiciary,” she said.
Alleging that the Centre has a motive behind the move, she called it “a new type of planning”.
“If there is central government representation in their collegium in the Supreme Court, then states will also obviously include the state government representative or Chief Minister in the collegium, or the government representative. But ultimately, what will be the result?” she questioned.
She said Collegium recommendations go from High Courts to the Supreme Court, which then sends their picks to the government of India. “Now there will be no value for the state government recommendation and ultimately the central government will directly interfere in the judiciary; that we don’t want. We want the judiciary to give justice for all,” Mamata Banerjee said, criticising the move.
She likened the Supreme Court to “temples, mosques, gurdwaras, and churches”.
“They are the Supreme authority to give the justice for the people. And this is the planning,” she said.
Mamata Banerjee, however, pointed out existing political interference in appointment of judges.
“Whatever names have been sent by the Calcutta High Court… I know whoever is their supporter, their line is clear. That name is cleared within one month. And who is not their supporter, their list is pending for three years. I know one particular boy. His father was also a judge and he died. So, this is the situation,” she added.
She said democracy was in danger, but her government has “absolute confidence” in the judiciary.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has written to the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, saying that the Supreme Court collegium should include government representatives. This will “infuse transparency and public accountability”, the Law Minister said in a letter that vastly escalates a dispute between the government and the judiciary since last year.
The Supreme Court has firmly defended the Collegium system. Opposition parties like the Congress, Trinamool and AAP have backed the top court. The Congress on Monday accused the government of “intimidating” the judiciary in a bid to “totally capture it” and alleged that Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s suggestion to restructure the Collegium system is a “poison pill” for the judiciary.