"The system of regional and communal representation should be totally abandoned in the selection of judges. Merit and integrity should be the criteria," he said delivering the Seventh Rajaji Memorial Lecture here yesterday.
Hegde, also a former Karnataka Lokayukta, said the consequences contrary to these principles were disastrous and cited various instances including delivery of money to a judge in Chandigarh and the CBI investigation against 34 judges in Allahabad in connection with a PF scam to support his theory that merit and integrity should be the primary yardsticks.
"Some years ago there was an incident of a sitting judge of Allahabad High Court conducting a Contempt of Court proceedings in a Railway platform, because he was not provided with a Railway berth to travel. Such examples are many," he said.
"All these reflect on the process of selection of judges. Quicker the change in the selection of judges is brought about, it will be better for the institution of the judiciary," he said, adding there should be an open debate on the method of change.
Justice Hegde, a member of anti-corruption group Team Anna and who was instrumental in formulating the draft Lokpal Bill, also stressed for probity in public life, concerning both the Legislature and Executive.
On the paid news issue, he described it as a "fall in professional standards," and appealed to those concerned to act quickly to "put an end to such unacceptable practices".
"Democracy is the best form of governance but it can survive only if the institutions created by it function within the parameters laid down by the Constitution," he said.