Suggestions galore for better collegium; exam for judges proposed

Updated - November 17, 2021 01:54 am IST

Published - November 05, 2015 11:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

From writing exams for elevation to the Supreme Court to revealing political party memberships to 50 per cent reservation for OBC judges in the highest courts, the suggestions received by the Supreme Court to improve the collegium are insightful, often repetitive, but definitely diverse.

A 19-page report submitted before the Constitution Bench contains over 60 suggestions filtered from the deluge of representations which greeted the Supreme Court’s initiative to rip open the collegium iron curtain on October 16 while striking down the NJAC. The report, prepared by senior advocate Arvind Dattar and Additional Solicitor-General Pinky Anand in less than 48 hours, would be posted on the Union Law Ministry website for public consumption. It focuses on suggestions received by the apex court to improve transparency, formulate eligibility criteria, establish a Secretariat for the collegium and frame a mechanism to deal with complaints against judicial candidates. Some of the suggestions to ensure transparency within the collegium include subjecting the minutes of its meetings to Right to Information Act. Another proposal is to have a prospective judge reveal whether he is a member of any political party.

The government, in its representation to the court, said judicial appointments should be a “consultative participatory exercise” and the collegium should make public an annual report on appointments made. Another suggestion by the government is to transfer the collegium proceedings to the National Archives of India after 30 years cooling period for use by scholars.

Suggestions include that the “zone of consideration” for candidates to judicial posts should not be confined to merely relatives of advocates and judges. The report records a proposal to have candidates disclose whether they are related to any sitting judge. While the OBC Advocates Association made an oral representation to include 50 per cent quota in judicial appointments to highest courts, the report has incorporated a “special suggestion” for representations for minority, backward classes, etc. “One suggestion is for a specific quota system of 27 per cent OBC, 15 per cent SC and 7.5 per cent ST,” it read.

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