Appointment of Judges Reserved Till Reforms Made to Collegium: SC

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On Tuesday, the Supreme Court stated that the decision regarding the appointment of new judges will be reserved till a conclusion is reached on changes to be made for the plan for appointing judges. The appointment of judges have been criticized for absence of transparency. Subsequent to striking off the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and also making changes to the collegium system, the Supreme Court had taken such a decision. The Constitutional bench consisted of Justices J S Khehar, Madan B Lokur, Adarsh Kumar Goel, J Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph who observed that the matter regarding the appointment of judges is stalled for some time and it is necessary to start functions of the collegium. Hence it is essential for the court to decide immediately on the reforms to be made to the collegium.

Though it is a difficult task, the matter is to be settled fast, the court said. There are nearly 1017 post for judges that was sanctioned out of which 400 posts are vacant. Considering the suggestions from the collegium which is getting stalled until the court takes decision on the changes, the judges are to be appointed by the new Chief Justice who is taking charge on December. Mukul Rohatgi Attorney General, Ranjit Kumar Solicitor General and  other senior lawyers made introductory submissions. The Court said that issues like eligibility criteria, methods to deal with complaints and the need to constitute permanent secretariat for collegium will be decided later.

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The main issue being transparency, many advocates were urging for clearness and openness on the procedure for appointing Supreme Court and High Court judges. Justice Khehar said that the reform is the main objective of NJAC which is transparency. The Court stated four points for deliberation that brings ‘glasnost’ which is openness and ‘perestroika’ which is reforms. Justice Joseph also said that perestroika can be made only through glasnost. Attorney General and Nariman were submitting that transparency was the very essential and the collegium must state reasons while appointing a judge and also mention reasons for rejection.

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Adv. Jewel Panicker