SC collegium rejects plan to widen talks for HC judges

Govt wants plaint disposal mechanism

SC collegium rejects plan to widen  talks for HC judges
The Supreme Court Collegium is learnt to have rejected a proposal of the government to widen the consultation process while selecting candidates for appointment as judges of the high courts. The clause on widening the “zone of consultation” was part of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) the government had sent to the Collegium last year. But in its recent response, the Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar has said no to the clause.

In the new MoP, the government wanted to include role of all judges, chief ministers, advocate generals and the attorney general in an attempt to widen the zone of consideration as per the decision of the apex court’s Constitution bench of December 2015. Besides, it wanted an appraisal committee, comprising retired or existing judges, jurists and academicians to vet the names. The government had sought to maintain a complaint disposal mechanism against the judges.

For judges of the Supreme Court, the government also wanted to bring in the criteria of geographical consideration, SC/ST and women and merit-than-seniority for the candidates. But the Collegium was of the unanimous view that the authority of naming candidates should remain with the high court collegium and not go outside. Since January last, the government and the apex court are trying to finalise the MoP –  a document to guide appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

There are two memorandums of procedure – one for the Supreme Court and the other for the 24 high courts. While rejecting the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, the apex court had agreed to revise the MoP to usher in more transparency in appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

The new law had sought to overturn the over two-decade-old Collegium system where judges appoint judges. It had sought a say for 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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