Hearing for transparent collegium system begins

RSTV Bureau

JudgesSupreme Court on Tuesday began its first hearing on the subject of improving an existing collegium system of appointing and elevating judges for the higher judiciary. The hearing is necessitated after the Supreme Court had quashed National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act last month terming the legislation as “unconstitutional”. While striking down the NJAC Act, the apex court had admitted that there is scope and perhaps a requirement to improve the existing collegium system.

On the first day of hearing on the subject, several suggestions to bring about greater transparency in the collegium system, including establishment of a complaint redressal mechanism, were placed before the Supreme Court.

The issues of eligibility criteria, establishment of a secretariat for the collegium and evolving a mechanism of complaint redressal were put forward as suggestions before the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar. The bench also comprised justices J Chelameswar, M B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Goel.

In its first hearing, the court heard suggestions put forth by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and senior advocates including K K Venugopal, who had argued against the collegium system during the hearing of the matter relating to National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act which was held unconstitutional by the apex court on October 16.

Senior advocates Fali S Nariman, Anil Divan, Rajeev Dhavan and Arvind Datar among others, who had successfully argued against the NJAC Act, also gave their suggestions, saying there was a need for greater transparency in the appointment for judges for the higher judiciary through the collegium system.

After hearing the matter for two hours, the Constitution bench asked all the participating parties to file written submissions by compiling the suggestions on transparency, eligibility, establishment of secretariat and evolving a mechanism for complaints redressal by the collegium.

The matter has now been posted for further hearing later this week on Thursday.

(With inputs from the PTI)