SC rejects AG's plea on collegium system

SC rejects AG's plea  on collegium system

The Supreme Court rejected the Union government’s contention that the collegium system was “dead and buried” forever with the amendment and even the SC’s decision to term the new law as unconstitutional and void will not automatically lead to the appointment of judges. 

“This would give absolute power to the President to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court without consulting the Chief Justice of India (and also to appoint a judge to a High Court). The result of accepting his submission would be to create a tyrant,” Justice Madan B Lokur said.

With the decision, the collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India, comprising four senior most judges is set to meet to extend the term of 30 additional judges of different high courts as an immediate measure.

The five-judge Constitution Bench by a majority decision (4:1) said the argument made by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi could not be sustained.

“The system of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, and Chief Justices and judges to the high courts and transfer of Chief Justices and judges of high courts from one high court to another, as existing prior to the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 (called the “collegium system”), is declared to be operative,” Justice J S Khehar, who presided over the bench, said.

In his separate judgment, Justice Lokur held the amendment passed by Parliament in 2014 as one impinging on the independence of the judiciary and altering the basic structure of the Constitution. He also rejected Rohatgi’s contention that the court’s decision will not automatically revive the collegium system. “The result of this declaration is that the ‘collegium system’ postulated by the Second Judges case (1993)  and the Third Judges case (1998)  gets revived,” he said.

Justice Kurian Joseph also discarded the AG’s submission that the apex court, even if it termed as void the amendment, would not  be able to sustain the collegium system.

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