Govt Proposes Panel To Shortlist Names For Judges’ Appointment

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Govt Proposes Panel To Shortlist Names For Judges’ Appointment

| Updated: January 16, 2023 19:22

More than seven years after a Supreme Court Constitution Bench directed the Centre to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) in consultation with the Chief Justice of India by incorporating additional appropriate measures to streamline the functioning of the “collegium system”, the issue remains unresolved.

Currently, the Centre has proposed setting up a ‘search-cum-evaluation committee’ to streamline the functioning of the Collegium system. The panel will shortlist and suggest names for appointment of judges to the Collegium which will take the final decision.

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has written to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud suggesting inclusion of a government nominee in the panel that will provide proper inputs on “suitable candidates” to the Collegium, they said. Such a panel would include a representative of the Centre and that of a state at the level of the Supreme Court and high court, respectively, they said, citing the January 6, 2023, letter of the Law Minister.

The Supreme Court Collegium includes the CJI and two senior-most judges for appointment of HC judges and the CJI plus four senior-most judges for appointment of SC judges, while the High Court Collegium consists of the Chief Justice plus two senior-most judges of the HC concerned.

The Centre and the Supreme Court indulged in slugfest on appointment of judges with Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Rijiju openly attacking the Collegium system of appointing judges.

A Bench led by Justice SK Kaul had said that “the Collegium system of appointment of judges is the law of the land and comments against it are not well taken”. It had suggested Attorney General R Venkataramani to advise the Government on the correct legal position on the issue.

The Government and the CJI shall take into consideration factors such as eligibility criteria, transparency in the appointment process, establishment of a Secretariat for each High Court and the Supreme Court and prescribe its functions, duties and responsibilities; and an appropriate mechanism and procedure for dealing with complaints against anyone who is being considered for appointment as a Judge, it said.

It further added  that the MoP may provide for any other matter considered appropriate for ensuring transparency and accountability including interaction with the recommendee(s) by the Collegium of the Supreme Court, without sacrificing the confidentiality of the appointment process.

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