Appointments, Disappointments – on SC collegium

Source: The post is based on an article “Appointments, Disappointments” published in The Times of India and “SC Collegium’s move to go public on government’s objections to its nominees is welcome but selective” published in The Indian Express on 21st January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

Relevance: concerns with the appointment of judges

News: The article discusses the lacunae in the appointment of judges and measures needed to resolve it.

What are the different problems with the appointment of judges in the Courts?

Amongst other criteria, judges of the SC or HC are also appointed on the basis of region, religion, caste and gender. 

Further, it has also been seen that the chances of those people for appointment increases who have better political connections or their relatives are already judges. At times, the religion of the person is also misused for the appointment.

This concern was also highlighted in the 80th report in 1979 by the Law Commission. The report said wrong appointments of judges have affected the image of courts. They have also undermined the confidence of the people in the courts.

The report further said that a person appointed not on merit but because of favouritism or other considerations can hardly have respect for the bar and can hardly give proper judgements.

The Law Commission in its 230th Report (2009) said for the HCs that it appears that this high office is patronised.

A person, whose near relation or well-wisher is or had been a judge in the higher courts or is a senior advocate or is a political high-up, stands a better chance of elevation.

What are other concerns with the appointment of judges?

The appointment of judges is done through the Collegium system. This system is not transparent and there are hardly any reasons provided behind the selection or rejection of the names by the Collegium.

However, the Collegium of the SC has recently taken a transparent decision though providing reasons to reiterate its recommendation on the appointment of five advocates as high court judges, and has gone public for both its reiteration and the government’s objection.

What can be the source of action?

SC should not only be transparent for a few names but it must make public its recommendations and its reasoned response to government objections on all names.

It must also provide reasons for why it did not reiterate some of the names the government rejected, and why it changed its mind on some of the names that it rejected which the government sent back on for its reconsideration.

Therefore, bringing transparency in the appointment, selection, and rejection of the judges is needed for the democratic institution like the courts to work efficiently.


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