‘I am apprehensive about Modi... this problem of trying to become too Hinduised’

Apr 06 2014, 02:35 IST
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SummaryConstitutional expert Fali Nariman talks about why the idea of a Lokpal selection committee is ‘absurd’, calls the existing collegium system of appointing judges ‘hopeless’ and says Manmohan Singh, as the Prime Minister of the country, ‘has failed us’.

Maneesh Chhibber: We are going to have a new Chief Justice of India (CJI) in less than a month. What are your views on this?

I think the present CJI has done remarkably well in the last nine months and has scored 90 runs already. He is very polite, very good. And he has taken a liberal view on most things. The next man (Justice RM Lodha), unfortunately, has very little time, though he is an excellent judge. This is the problem with our judiciary. We should have a minimum tenure for chief justices. The problem is they don’t know where to start. If you start now, number two will say you did this to exclude me. But perhaps giving them 67 or 68 as retirement age is the best thing. That’s the trend the world over.

Maneesh Chhibber: In recent times, we have seen the incumbent applying for government posts.

That is a disaster. I have noticed this for the past 15 years. Very few people pack their bags and leave. Everybody seems to hang on for some post or the other, which is demeaning. But that’s because the government doesn’t give them pension equal to their last pay drawn.

Coomi Kapoor: You had resigned as counsel for the Gujarat government on Narmada rehabilitation.

That was terrible. The previous chief minister of Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel, had come to me and I told him in Gujarati, ‘What is all this? Why are you burning Bibles in Gujarat?’ He said, ‘This is not the correct story and all this will be rectified’. A couple of months later, they were burning Christians instead of Bibles.

Coomi Kapoor: So you wouldn’t take another case of the Gujarat government?

I have not accepted any and they haven’t offered either.

Maneesh Chhibber: What is your view on sitting judges applying for the post of Lokpal?

That’s another shocker.

Shekhar Gupta: There were 12 applicants?

I declined (to join the Lokpal selection panel), it was not a resignation. I didn’t know this...it appeared to be cooked up because the search committee of which we were members—and we were supposed to be those who searched for people and brought them—was constrained because they said that they will only appoint those whose applications the government had received. So, we couldn’t go outside. The selection committee had the right to choose from outside, not the search committee. That, in retrospect, I think, was a bit of a trick and shouldn’t

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