Check, do not cross – Government should work towards systemic reform; not attack the judiciary

Source: The post is based on an article “Check, do not cross – Government should work towards systemic reform; not attack the judiciary” published in The Hindu on 19th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

Relevance: issues associated with the Collegium system

News: The Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has written to the Chief Justice of India to request that the executive be given a role in the appointment process of judges, which now is being handled by a Collegium of judges.

What are some demands of the central government asked in the letter?

As per the report, the Minister wants the formation of a search-and-evaluation committee, with Government representatives. It will suggest names to the collegiums in the High Courts and the Supreme Court for appointments.

Government is also demanding for a representative of the Union government in the Supreme Court collegium, and a state government’s representative in the High Court collegiums.

Moreover, the Law Minister has repeatedly been highlighting the flaws of the collegium system.

What has been the stand of court regarding the demand of the government?

The Court has earlier said that the government at any time can come up with law which is more transparent, independent and establishes a neutral mechanism in the appointment of judges and which does not affect the independence of the judiciary.

Till a new law comes, the government has to abide by the law of the land, that is, the present system of appointments through the Collegium.

What can be the course of action?

The government has often tried to delay the appointment of judges by deliberately delaying action on recommendations; ignoring reiterated names even after multiple reconsiderations; and carrying on a campaign to delegitimise the institution.

However, this is not acceptable as each and every democratic institution has its boundary and limitation under which it functions.

Therefore, a system of checks and balances that prevents any one branch gaining the upper hand is essential for democratic functioning.

 

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