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From Ayodhya case to same-sex marriage verdict, here's what CJI DY Chandrachud has to say

In November 2019, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court, including Justice Chandrachud, delivered a unanimous verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute. CJI Chandrachud was also a part of the historic verdict in September 2018 on same-sex marriage.

Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi New Delhi Updated on: January 01, 2024 19:34 IST
CJI, CJI DY Chandrachud
Image Source : PTI Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud

New Delhi: More than four years after the historic Ayodhya verdict of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Monday said that the five judges who ruled in favour of the construction of a Ram temple by a trust at the disputed site had unanimously decided that there would be no authorship ascribed to the judgment.

On November 9, 2019, a five-judge bench led by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi settled a fractious issue that spanned more than a century. The bench paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple and ruled that an alternative five-acre plot would be allocated for a mosque in the holy town of Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

Ayodhya case judges unanimously decided: CJI Chandrachud

In an exclusive interview with the news agency PTI, CJI Chandrachud, who was part of the constitution bench, candidly spoke on the issue of anonymity. He mentioned that when the judges sat together, as they do before a pronouncement, it was unanimously decided that this would be a "judgment of the court."

He was replying to the query as to why the name of the author judge was not made public. "When the five-judge bench sat to deliberate on the judgement as we all do before a Judgement is pronounced, we all decided unanimously that this will be a judgement of the court. And, therefore, there was no authorship ascribed to any individual judge," the CJI said.

"The case has a long history of conflict, of diverse viewpoints based on the history of the nation and all those who were part of the bench decided that this will be a judgement of the court. The court will speak through one voice and the idea of doing so was to send a clear message that all of us stood together not only in the ultimate outcome but in the reasons indicated in the judgement," he said, adding "I will close my answer with that."

CJI Chandrachud on scrapping of Article 370

Chief Justice Chandrachud declined to add to any further controversy regarding the Supreme Court's unanimous verdict supporting the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. He tersely stated that judges decide a case "according to the Constitution and the law."

He expressed that judges convey their thoughts through their judgments, which become public property after pronouncement. He added that in a free society, people are free to form their opinions about it.

“So far as we are concerned we decide according to the Constitution and the law. I don't think it will be appropriate for me either to respond to the criticism or mount a defence to my judgement. What we have said in my judgement is reflected in the reason present in the signed judgement and I must leave it at that,” the CJI said.

CJI on same-sex marriage

Chief Justice Chandrachud openly discussed the five-judge constitution bench's decision not to legalize same-sex marriages, emphasizing that the outcome of a case is never personal to a judge. While acknowledging the "long and hard battle" fought by queer couples for their rights.

On October 17, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court refused to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriage but recognised equal rights for queer people and their protection.

"Once you decide a case you kind of distance yourself from the outcome. Outcomes are never personal to us as a judge. I never have any regrets. Yes, I have been in a majority in many cases and minority in many cases. But the important part of the life of a judge is never to associate yourself with a cause. Having decided a case, I leave it at that," he said.

Wrong to say collegium system lacks transparency: CJI Chandrachud

CJI defended the collegium system, where judges appoint judges to the higher judiciary, emphasizing that steps have been taken to enhance transparency. He acknowledged the ease with which the process is criticized but highlighted the collegium's commitment to following due consultation processes before appointing a judge.

"To say that collegium system is lacking in transparency would not be correct. We have taken steps to ensure that greater transparency is maintained. A sense of objectivity in the decision-making process is maintained. But I must also share something and that's my caveat. When we consider judges for the appointment in Supreme Court, we are dealing with the careers of the sitting judges of the high court," he said.

"Therefore the deliberations that take place within the collegium can't be put out in the public realm for a variety of reasons. Many of our discussions are on the privacy of those judges who are under consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court. Those deliberations, if they have to take place in a free and candid atmosphere, can't be the subject matter of video recording or documentation. That is not the system which the Indian Constitution has adopted," Chandrachud said.

The CJI said keeping in mind the diverse society, it is also important that we learn to trust our decision-making process. "It is very easy to criticise the process but now that I have been part of the process for several years I can share with you that every effort is being made by our judges to ensure due process of consultation is made before the appointment of a judge," he said.

Chandrachud said as the Chief Justice of India he was bound by the Constitution and by the law laid down by the top court interpreting it.

"We have the collegium system for the appointment of judges which has now been part of our jurisprudence since 1993 and that is the system that we implement. But having said that, it is equally our duty as present members of the collegium system to maintain and make it more transparent. To make it more objective. And we have taken steps, decisive steps in that regard.

"All resolutions of the collegium are put on the website so that people know the decisions we take. And that promotes transparency. We have again put in the public realm the parameters which the collegium applies in the selection of judges to the Supreme Court. And many of the parameters apply in high courts," he said.

Chandrachud said the Supreme Court's Centre for Research and Planning assists the collegium in compiling data about judges who are in the zone of consideration, and it prepares a comprehensive document which is circulated among members of the collegium which helps them in evaluating judges whose names come up for consideration.

(With PTI inputs)

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