Prayagraj: An Allahabad High Court judge has written to PM Narendra Modi, alleging “nepotism and casteism” in the appointment of judges to high courts and the Supreme Court.

In his letter, Justice Rang Nath Pandey has highlighted the problems with the existing Collegium system for appointment of judges.

In his July 1 letter in Hindi, Justice Pandey has said that the procedure to appoint judges through the Collegium is fraught with opaqueness, favouritism and bias. “Judges are recommended by the Collegium on the basis of being someone’s favourite which is very unfortunate,” he said.

Set to retire on Thursday, he wrote, “In the last 34 years of my service as a judicial officer, I have seen people with no or poor knowledge of the law being appointed as judges.”

Underlining the problems plaguing the Collegium system, he alleged that the selection of high court and Supreme Court judges was done in closed chambers over a cup of tea and on the basis of favouritism and lobbying. “The opaqueness of the process is taken care of and the names of future judges are made public only after the entire process is completed,” he said.

He added this keeping the process a secret violates that principles of transparency.  He also alleged that while the appointment of the relatives of senior judges as high court judges is difficult, they are made judges in the subordinate judiciary as the selection and appointment of subordinate judges is done under the State Public Service Commission and the concerned high court.

Justice Pandey has also remarked that the Central Government’s step to create a National Judicial Service Commission had given hope of transparency. However, the NJAC Act was unfortunately struck down by the Supreme Court.

Listing out the Supreme Court’s inner conflicts becoming public, clash of interests or on the master of roster, Pandey said the quality of the judiciary in the country was in the doldrums.

He said he came from a humble background but became a judge by working hard and clearing competitive exams. Therefore, he added, he urged the PM to establish a system through which even a person from an ordinary background could become the Chief Justice of India because of his capabilities, hard work and determination.