Senior advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh on Friday minced no words in criticising the collegium system, while emphasizing that every high court in the country should have a reasonable number of women judges. Chief Justice of India U U Lalit, who was sharing the dais with him, retorted that the collegium always picks up the best of the lot.
Singh, while speaking at the farewell of apex court judge Justice Indira Banerjee, said: "In the retirement of justice Indira Banerjee, we are missing a very fine judge. When she came, we became three lady judges. There was a time when we were four lady judges also, and now, again we will go back to three lady judges."
"I beseech the Chief Justice of India to not only fill up at least two or three vacancies to the apex court, at least amongst the recent vacancies by lady lawyers, but also ensure every high court in the country has a reasonable number of lady judges."
Singh also said that the Patna High Court today has zero lady judges, and "we have so many good lawyers practicing in our court, who are willing to go there and they do not have any lady lawyers good enough to be elevated".
"But, unfortunately because of this system we are following today; collegium system is not interested in getting good people and the best people, so these elevations are not happening," he added.
The Chief Justice, speaking at the farewell function organised by the SCBA, began his speech by responding to Singh's remarks on the collegium system with a smile.
"At the outset I must say that the collegium always picks up the best of the lot," he said.
Justice Banerjee said: "I am very happy to retire since I will be free after 20 and half years. When I had time, I had no money and when I earned, I had no time. Now is the time when I will have time and money since I will get my pension."
She added that one of her predecessors, Justice L.N. Rao, had said that it would be better if tenure in the Supreme Court is longer as judges give their best in a year or two and, when they start performing, they have to say bye, bye!
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