SC Collegium recommends authors of ‘outstanding’ judgments as Delhi HC judges

The measure is one of many introduced to bring in a new sense of objectivity even as government has made unprecedented attempts to malign the Collegium

Updated - April 14, 2023 10:55 pm IST

Published - April 14, 2023 08:50 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Image used for representative purpose only.

Image used for representative purpose only. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

The Supreme Court’s Collegium system of judicial appointments is actually grading the judgments of candidates under its zone of consideration. The best of judgments is given the grade of “outstanding” and their authors are recommended for judgeships in constitutional courts.

The measure is one of many introduced to bring in a new sense of objectivity even as the government has made unprecedented attempts to malign the Collegium.

Collegium resolutions of April 12 recommending three judicial officers to the Bench of the Delhi High Court show that a ‘Judgment Evaluation Committee’ has pored over the candidates’ written judgments and found them “outstanding”.

The judicial officers are Girish Kathpalia, Dharmesh Sharma, and Manoj Jain.

The beginnings of the move to extensively review the judgments of prospective candidates could be traced to the Collegium resolutions of September last year when Justice U.U. Lalit was the Chief Justice of India.

In a resolution on October 9, the Lalit Collegium revealed how the “procedure of circulating the judgments of the prospective candidates and making an objective assessment of their relative merit was introduced for the first time in the meeting held on September 26, 2022”.

The same resolution also revealed that Justice Dutta’s name was cleared in the Collegium meeting of September 26 last year. However, the Collegium had, on that day, deferred its decision to recommend 10 other judges after a “demand was raised by some of the members of the Collegium that we should have more judgments of the other candidates”.

Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud recently drew attention to how Collegium resolutions, published online, have become transparent about the appointments process.

Step-by-step narrative

Collegium resolutions now give a step-by-step narrative of the process of appointment, starting from the recommendation of the candidate’s name by the respective High Court Collegium, to the approval by the Chief Ministers and Governors, to an insight into the remarks made by the Intelligence Bureau about a candidate’s personal and professional image and integrity to opinions by consultee judges about the person’s suitability.

Chief Justice Chandrachud has also tasked the Supreme Court’s Centre for Research and Planning, an in-house research body, to work closely with the Collegium’s secretariat to collect data on the judicial work of senior High Court judges, including their orders and judgments. The CJI said this was a novel measure to bring in transparency and objectivity into the appointments process.

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