Supreme Court Invites Suggestions from Public on Reforms to Collegium

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The hon’ble Supreme Court had decided to invite suggestions from the public, lawyers and academicians of the nation on the reforms to be made to the collegium system. The apex court had earlier quashed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and as a result the collegium was revived. The Constitutional bench with Justice J S Khehar as its head stated that the views of the general public will be useful in this regard. The Court also stated that as the issue is really important, the suggestions of the lawyers alone may not serve the purpose. The other judges consisted of Justices Madan B Lokur, J Chelameswar, Adarsh K Goel and Kurian Joseph.

In 1993 and 1998, the hon’ble court had entrusted the power to choose judges from the executive. The collegium system was introduced through a verdict of the Supreme Court in 1998. Here, it is the first case where the apex judicial body is inviting proposals from the general public in such an important matter like selection process of the judicial officers. The Chairman of Bar Council of India asked the Court to postpone the case to collect the suggestions of lawyers from the high courts and Supreme Court. Some of the lawyers were of the opinion that the actual stakeholders were public and therefore their views will be pertinent.

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The Court further appreciated Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General of India for uploading in the website of Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the broad features of the reforms like eligibility criteria, transparency, mode of appointment  and permanent secretariat. The suggestions can be posted on the website till November 13. The additional solicitor generals are also asked to compile the views prior to the submission before the court. The next hearing will be on 18th and 19th November. The Supreme Court further said that the present collegium will proceed to function till reforms are made. The reforms to be made later will not affect the present decision making functions of the collegium headed by H L Dattu, CJI.

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Adv. Jewel Panicker