Supreme Court collegium reserves final call on judges

The Supreme Court Collegium has handed over the finalised Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges to the government.

While maintaining the government’s proposal for a national security clause in the MoP, the Collegium has reserved to itself the right to reiterate a name rejected by the government.

In the final draft MoP handed over by the government to the Supreme Court Collegium in August 2016, the government had included the controversial clause that allowed it to reject a judicial candidate recommended by the Collegium if he or she is perceived to be a security threat. The clause resulted in an government-judiciary impasse for over a year.

Now, while accepting national security and public interest as the new ground of objection to appoint a candidate as a judge, the collegium is learnt to have made it clear that the government will not have a right to reject its recommendation.

The body of five senior-most judges of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar has made it clear that if the government has objections on the ground of national security and public interest, it will convey the same to the collegium. The collegium will then take a final call, sources said.

While accepting the government's demand to set up secretariats in the apex court and the 24 high courts to assist collegiums in SC and HCs in selecting judges, the collegium has refused to accept the demand for committees of retired or sitting judges to assist the collegiums in finding suitable candidates.

Since last January, the government and the apex court have been trying to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure — a document to guide appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

While rejecting the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, the SC had agreed to revise the Memorandum of Procedure to usher in more transparency in appointment of judges to the SC and the HCs.

The new law had sought to overturn the over two decade old collegium system where judges appoint judges. It had sought say of the Executive in appointment of judges. The national security clause and the secretariat clause are part of the draft MoP, which has been shuttling between the government and the collegium since March 22, 2016.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 9:35:07 PM |

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