Collegium system

News:President has appointed four new judges to the Supreme Court taking its strength to 34 which is the highest-ever.

Facts:

About Collegium system:

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges to the Supreme Court and transfers of judges of the High Courts are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • The Collegiums System of appointment of judges has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.

Procedure of an appointment:

  • The Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the other judges of the highest judiciary are appointed by the President of India under Article 124(2) of the Constitution.

Eligibility:A person to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court should have the following qualifications: 

  • He should be a citizen of India.
  • He should have been a judge of a High Court (or high courts in succession) for five years; or
  • He should have been an advocate of a High Court (or High Courts in succession) for ten years; or
  • He should be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the president.

Are Collegium recommendations binding?

  • The Central Government can ask the Collegium to reconsider its recommendations only once as the recommendations are binding on the Central Government if the Collegium sends the names of the judges to the government for the second time.

Concerns with the Collegium system:

  • Collegium is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution and has been evolved by the judiciary itself.
  • The collegium system is seen as a closed-door affair with no prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria or even the selection procedure.
  • Collegium has not been able to keep a check on the rising cases of vacancies of judges and cases in courts.
  • There is no public knowledge of how and when a collegium meets and how it takes its decisions.
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