Outgoing Chief Justice of India P.Sathasivam Friday said that rules and criteria in the appointment of judges should be relaxed for giving proper representation to members of SC/STs, OBCs, minorities and women in the higher judiciary if they were deserving.
Chief Justice Sathasivam, who had earlier before the start of the function to bid farewell to him told media persons that he would accept the offer of becoming Lokpal only if it was decided unanimously, said he favoured "relaxing age, income and other criteria" to accommodate deserving candidates" from the scheduled castes/tribes (SC/STs), other backward classes (OBC), minorities and women.
Chief Justice Sathasivam would formally lay down the office Sunday when his successor Justice R.M.Lodha would be sworn as 41st Chief Justice of India.
Besides Chief Justice Sathasivam, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra too was given farewell as Friday happened to be her last working day also.
Chief Justice Sathasivam said that during his stint as the CJI, he had emphasized the desirability of giving appropriate representation to members of SCs/STs/OBCs, minorities and women, and had asked the chief justices of high courts to consider relaxing age, income and other criteria to accommodate deserving candidates belonging to these sections of the society.
He said that it was without compromising on "prescribed qualifications and expected standard".
Holding that the "future judiciary requires both knowledgeable and prudent judges", he cautioned that "process of selecting the Judges must not be hurried thoughtlessly but progressively".
Elaborating, he said that when he became the judge of the Madras High Court, it was without a woman judge but today there are six. He said that recently, Delhi High Court has got its first female chief justice.
Giving his mantra of a good judge which he had scrupulously followed in his entire carrier, Chief Justice Sathasivam underlined five principles: "Be punctual, be patient, be humane, be firm and polite and give all fair due process."
Giving his insight of a judge, he said they are "to be true only to the Constitution and their conscience".
Appreciating the role of media, he said it brings the laws closer to the common masses.
"The responsibility that the media owes to the society is enormous and it should not only make complete but correct reporting of judgments so that they can be understood by the people in right perspective," he counselled media persons.
In his address, the CJI-designate, Justice Lodha said: "Supreme Court represents no class, no caste, no majority, no minority. It follows and interprets the law and the constitution. Hold the balance (of justice) firmly and ensure that its scales does not tilt."
Admitting that she was a wall clock shirker and thus was usually late in coming to the court, Justice Misra said that she adequately compensated this by delivering quality judgments. She was nostalgic about her association with Rajasthan High Court.
Earlier Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran praised Chief Justice Sathasivam for his several judgments particularly one under which the apex court permitted 'None Of The Above' NOTA option to the voters.