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AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said that his fight against BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi is not a “battle of prestige” but one to save the country from corrupt forces. Kejriwal said the party’s electoral win in Varanasi and Amethi would be “enough to shake up the country” even if the rookie party does not win 100 seats in the Lok Sabha poll. “Modiji brought me to Varanasi. And this is not a battle of prestige, but one to save the country from corrupt forces like the BJP and the Congress,” Kejriwal after his hectic and back-breaking campaigning in the temple town. In Amethi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded Kumar Vishwas against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. Asked whether it was purely out of electoral reasons that he decided to contest in Varanasi, Delhi’s former chief minister Kejriwal said: “It is not so… Wherever the Aam Aadmi Party enters once, it maintains an everlasting tie with that place and its people.” “We have come to Varanasi and we will never leave it,” he adds. Varanasi will go to the polls May 12. The contest between the Gujarat chief minister and Kejriwal is the most keenly-watched contest, in which the former seems to have the upper hand. Both the leaders filed their nomination papers accompanied by large numbers of supporters and their cavalcades. Modi’s road show – a day after Kejriwal’s – was joined by thousands, sending out a strong signal of his popularity. Besides Modi, Congress’ Ajay Rai is another contender. Asked about the number of seats AAP was hoping to muster in the house of 543, Kejriwal said: “We will get what people will give. I am not worried about the results. Imagine you seeing news on TV and coming to know that both Modiji and Rahul Gandhiji got defeated. The Congress will be destroyed and BJP will cease to exist,” he added. As to why the over a-year-old party did not wait for the 2019 general election, Kejriwal answered: “People said we should have contested 30 seats (in Lok Sabha) and gradually taken the graph higher, but that is conventional politics. Had we waited till 2019, the country would not have been there,” he said. Perhaps, the biggest challenge for Kejriwal is to justify his resignation from Delhi’s chief ministership to the voters of Varanasi. “You have only one point against me that I resigned from the post of Delhi chief minister. But I did no corruption whereas Modiji is the agent of Ambani.

The new Chief Justice of India, RM Lodha, on Sunday said he did not agree with the idea of having fixed tenure for chief justices of high courts and the CJI and favoured continuing with the collegium system for appointment of judges in higher judiciary.

Justice Lodha, who took over as 41st CJI, however, advocated wider consultation with people outside collegium “without tinkering” with the memorandum of procedure prescribed by Law Ministry in appointment of judges.

He differed with his predecessor Justice P Sathasivam who had said that there should be two-year fixed tenure for CJI and chief justices of high courts.

“My view will be little different on the issue. This institution works on discipline. The fixed tenure is bound to affect the next member. If there is a fixed tenure of CJI then the legitimate expectations of other judges would be taken away. Average tenure of Supreme Court judges is less than four years then how do you expect fixed tenure of two years for the CJI,” Lodha said while interacting with reporters.

He said that judicial institutions would run smoothly if good people with impeccable character are appointed judges and this would be his “top priority” along with bringing more transparency within the judicial system.

“My first priority would be to appoint judges in high courts and the Supreme Court. My mantra is appoint good judges and rest will follow on its own. If we have good judges then we would have entire new complexion of judiciary in the next 7 or 8 years down the line.

“I am bringing more transparency and wider consultation in appointment of judges. Consultations to be done with 2-3 judges outside the collegium and with 2-3 lawyers of impeccable integrity,” he said.

The CJI said he will be writing to all chief justices of high courts in the regard.

Justice Lodha also made it clear that wide consultation for appointment of judges does not in any manner mean that he was making any reservation on the collegium system of selection and appointment of judges.

“This (wider consultation) is only for additional inputs. There is no tinkering with the memorandum of procedure prescribed by the Ministry of Law,” he said and added that “other than the collegium system there is no other suitable system (for appointment of judges).”

On the issue of judges’ kith and kin practising in the same high court, Justice Lodha said that there is nothing that a judge can do in such matters and it is up to the Bar to be “pro-active” and take action.

“Bar has the disciplinary control over the members. It is for the bar to take action and closely follow the conduct of the members. What can a judge do if some lawyers do not adhere to ethics. Rules are there and bar has to take action,” he said.

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