CJI Chandrachud's Diversified Supreme Court Has Only 14 Brahmin Judges Out Of 34: Senior Advocate Comments Sarcastically, Writes To Law Minister Saying Collegium Should "Practice Diversity"
In August this year, Chief Justice of India Dr. DY Chandrachud said that the Supreme Court is a poly vocal Court and one of the main missions of the Collegium is to ensure that the Supreme Court represents the diversity of the country. In February this year, CJI Chandrachud called for diversity in arbitral space in India. In September last year, the CJI said that diversity has intrinsic worth and that it furthers our understanding of social justice. In September 2018, Justice Chandrachud lamented the lack of diversity in the National Law Schools.
Senior Advocate S. Basavaraj of the Karnataka High Court has written to the Union Law Minister complaining about the lack of diversity among judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts. "DYC's Diversified Supreme Court has only 14 Brahmin Judges out of 34 Judges", said the Senior Advocate sarcastically in a message on social media.
In his letter, the senior lawyer has requested the Minister to communicate to the Collegiums of the Supreme Court and the High Courts to "practice diversity both in letter and spirit". He says in the letter that representation should be given to all castes and religions in Court and that no Court should be "packed with more than 20% from one caste".
"In the Supreme Court of India, out of 34 Judges, 14 are from Brahmin Community. Few will retire as the Chief Justice of India", the letter says. As per his message on social media, the following judges of the Apex Court are Brahmins: Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Surya Kant, Justice Abhay.S. Oka, Justice B.V. Nagarathna, Justice Bela M. Trivedi, Justice PS Narasimha, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, Justice Manoj Misra, Justice Aravind Kumar, Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, Justice K.V. Viswanathan, Justice AV Bhatti and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma. Verdictum is not in a position to independently verify if this is correct.
Chief Justice DY Chandrachud was part of the Supreme Court Collegium which recommended most of the aforesaid names for elevation to the Supreme Court.
In his letter, the Senior Advocate says, "The appointment of judges to higher judiciary is guided by Article 124 and Article 217, which outline the process of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts, respectively. The appointment of judges based on merit ensures that individuals with the requisite legal knowledge, experience, and integrity are selected. However, diversity in the judiciary is crucial to reflect the pluralistic nature of Indian society. Representation from different castes and religions helps in ensuring a broader perspective in the interpretation and application of laws".
He says that a diverse judiciary can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable justice delivery system. The letter to the Law Minister says that Judges from various backgrounds may bring unique insights that enhance the understanding of different social and cultural issues. "A judiciary that is perceived as inclusive and unbiased helps in building public confidence in the legal system. It reinforces the idea that justice is accessible to all, irrespective of caste or religion", S. Basavaraj says in his letter.
It is also stated in the letter that avoiding discrimination in the appointment process is essential to uphold the constitutional principles of equality and that the judiciary, as one of the pillars of democracy, should exemplify and uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution.
The Senior Advocate also complains in the letter that the Ministry is withholding names of Muslim candidates for appointment to the Karnataka High Court. He says that there is no Christian judge in Karnata High Court despite the availability of eligible candidates. He says in the letter that in Karnataka, 17 out of 51 Judges belong to the Brahmin community.
"Let me make it clear; I have absolutely no doubt about the ability, integrity and the judicial impartiality of the judges from the aforesaid community. Their performance has been excellent. But the inclusiveness is lacking to the extent of unconstitutionality", it is said in the letter.
In March, 2022, the then Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said in a reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, "Appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts is made under Articles 124, 217 and 224 of the Constitution of India, which do not provide reservation for any caste or class of persons. Hence no caste/category wise data is maintained centrally".
"In the present system of appointment of Judges to the constitutional courts through the Collegium system, the onus to provide social diversity and representation to all sections of the society including SC/ST/OBC/Women/Minorities primarily falls on the Judiciary. Government cannot appoint any person as a High Court Judge who is not recommended by the High Court Collegium/Supreme Court Collegium", the Minister said.
The Minister also added, "However, the Government remains committed to social diversity in the appointment of Judges in the Higher Judiciary and has been requesting the Chief Justices of High Courts that while sending proposals for appointment of Judges, due consideration be given to suitable candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women to ensure social diversity in appointment of Judges in High Courts".