‘But collegium system of appointments can’t continue’

There is no unanimity among political parties on setting up a National Judicial Commission for appointment of judges, according to Union Law Ministry sources.

The sources, while disputing the Chief Justice of India-designate P. Sathasivam’s justification for continuance of the collegium system, said: “There is no country where the Executive has no say in the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary. The Executive cannot recommend even one name from the Bar. Those judges within the collegium say the system is good, those judges who are outside the collegium say the system is bad as it is not transparent. Former Chief Justices and judges write to the government seeking an enquiry into certain appointments.”

Asked whether the government contemplated review of the two Constitution Bench judgments which provided for the collegium system of appointments, the sources said: “There is no need for seeking a review. We can change the system even without a review. This system can’t continue, it will be changed. But there are strings attached to it. There is no unanimity among political parties on the setting up of the National Judicial Commission and a Bill is still pending.”

Collaborative exercise

The sources said: “What we want is a collaborative exercise in the appointment of judges. We will recommend our names. If they [judiciary] are not satisfied with these names, let them return these names.”

On a fixed tenure for the CJI, the sources said, “The government has not addressed the issue.”

On a quota for various sections within the judiciary, they said, “We want every region and every section in the country to be adequately represented to reflect the reality of India.”

The sources said the government, in consultation with the CJI, would take steps for tape-recording court proceedings, and video-recording would be done in the next stage.

On the recent order of the Central Information Commission that political parties were ‘public authorities’ and that they must disclose information, the sources said the government was not challenging the order in the Delhi High Court. “This [order] is not acceptable to the political parties. It is not that there should be no transparency but this is not the way to do this.”

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