Collegium system | Supreme Court non-committal on early hearing

The petition has sought the revival of the National Judicial Appointments Commission or NJAC

February 16, 2023 09:51 pm | Updated 10:29 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A scene at Supreme Court in New Delhi. File

A scene at Supreme Court in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on Thursday remained non-committal about hearing at an early date a petition seeking reconsideration of the collegium system of judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and High Courts.

In an urgent mentioning before Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, petitioner-advocate Mathews Nedumpara said the case had been mentioned twice before in November and January, but the Registry had still not listed it for hearing.

“Let me see,” Chief Justice Chandrachud said, even as Mr. Nedumpara repeatedly urged for a specific date on which the case would be listed.

The petition has sought the revival of the National Judicial Appointments Commission or NJAC, which briefly gave the government an equal role along with the judiciary in the appointment of judges to the constitutional courts before it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015.

The petition follows recent verbal attacks by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on the collegium system, calling it opaque.

It said the Constitution Bench judgment of October 2015 had thwarted the “will of the people” by striking down the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act which introduced the NJAC mechanism.

The petition said the 2015 judgment should be rendered void ab initio as it had revived the collegium system. The petitioners called the collegium system a “synonym for nepotism and favouritism”.

It said repeated representations to the Centre to evolve an alternative mechanism to the collegium system fell on deaf ears, prompting the petitioners to approach the Supreme Court.

In one of the earlier mentionings, Chief Justice Chandrachud had pointed out to Mr. Nedumpara that the collegium system was introduced through a nine-judge Bench judgment in 1993. The CJI had wondered whether a judgment could be challenged through a writ petition.

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