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SC throws open collegium system to public scrutiny

Braving uncharted territories to fulfil its promise of transparency in judicial appointments, the Supreme Court on Thursday threw open the collegium system to public scrutiny and invited the common man from every part of the country to give his opinion on what kind of persons should be appointed as judges of the highest courts.

Judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and the High Courts were based entirely on the Memoranda of Procedure framed after a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court established the collegium system. The public had never been consulted in these matters.

Reminding itself that India is a “vibrant democracy where every person has the right to express his opinion,” a five-judge Constitution Bench, in a historic step for the judiciary, asked the Union Ministry of Law and Justice to upload a notice on its official website and issue advertisements in the media inviting suggestions from the public on how to improve and bring transparency to appointment and transfer of judges.

The public can post their suggestions on the Ministry website till 5 p.m. November 13. The court does not want the public, considered the “first stakeholder” in the justice delivery mechanism, to be a mute spectator. “Whatever everybody wants to say can be heard,” observed Justice J.S. Khehar, who heads the Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel.

Ideas will be divided in four categories

“Whoever wants to say, let him have his say. Whatever he wants to say, let him say... We should give him a hearing,” Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said in the Supreme Court on Thursday after a Bench opened the Collegium system to public scrutiny and invited the common man from every part of the country to give his opinion on what kind of persons should be appointed as judges.



The suggestions from the public would be divided into four categories — how to improve transparency in judicial appointments; formulation of eligibility criteria for appointment of judges; establishment of an independent secretariat to assist the Collegium; and a mechanism to deal with complaints and adverse reports about persons within the ‘zone of consideration’ of being appointed as judges.



The Bench, led by Justice J.S. Khehar and including Justices J. Chelameswar, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel, has embarked on the mission to re-examine the Collegium style of functioning after it struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) law as unconstitutional in a majority verdict on October 16.



Senior advocate Fali Nariman termed the Bench’s efforts a “historic work in progress,” while the former Solicitor-General, Gopal Subramaniam, described it as an “enormous burden.”


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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 2:15:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-throws-open-collegium-system-to-public-scrutiny/article7847518.ece

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