Centre seeks SC direction on improving Collegium system

RSTV Bureau

supremecourtThe Centre on Thursday expressed its inability before the Supreme Court in formulating the draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary. Representing the central government, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi pleaded the apex court bench to issue directions for making the collegium system better and leave the task of drafting MoP.

The five-judge constitutional bench headed by Justice JS Khehar had on Wednesday asked the Attorney General to prepare the draft MoP after the Union law ministry received several suggestions on how to improve the collegium system for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

“It is not possible for the government to devise a draft Memorandum of Procedure for judicial discussion. It is an unnecessary burden on this court,” Attorney General Rohatgi said adding, “there is no procedure of draft MoP in the Constitution…. We can’t issue it.”

The constitutional bench, during the hearing, made it clear that it does not want to supplant but only supplement to the framework devised in pursuance to the nine-judges-bench in the second and the third judges case.

The Supreme Court had on Wednesday asked the Centre to formulate a draft MoP, after the latter apprised the five-judge bench of getting nearly 3,500 representations and suggestions.

The suggestions have been posted on the website of Union Law ministry following the Supreme Court’s invitation to public seeking improvement in the collegiums system after it had struck down the law passed by the government to appoint judges, namely National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act as “unconstitutional”.

The suggestions ranged from disclosure of complete information to avoid any “conflict of interest” to even written tests followed by an interview for selection of judges.

The government suggested a three-step procedure, to be made known publicly, of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts that comprises the recommendation and appointment through a consultative participatory exercise. It has also suggested that “the minutes of the collegiums” meeting must be subject to RTI Act.

(With inputs from the PTI)