Collegium differs with Govt on proposal to appoint HC judges

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Supreme Court of India.

File photo of Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court collegium, a five-judge body which recommends elevation and appointment in higher judiciary, is learnt to have rejected a proposal of the government to widen the consultation process while selecting candidates for appointment as high court judge.

The clause on widening the “zone of consultation” was part of the Memorandum of Procedure the government had sent to the collegium last year.

The MoP has been at work between the government and judiciary to finalise the guidelines for the appointment to judges in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The MoP were revised after the Supreme Court’s order of striking down NJAC — the law passed by the Parliament to make appointments in higher judiciary.

In its recent response, the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar is learnt to have said no to the clause which entailed the widening of consultation process.

The government wanted the memorandum of procedure to state that sitting judges of the high court, senior lawyers and advocates general of the respective states will suggest names of candidate to the collegium for elevation to the Bench.

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 Memorandum of Procedure. 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 SC had agreed to revise the memorandum of procedure to usher in more transparency in appointment of judges to the SC and HCs.

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.

(With inputs from the PTI)