SC lifts veil on Collegium recommendations: 

SC lifts veil on Collegium recommendations

Context

  • The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has resolved to go public with all its recommendations to the government on judicial appointments, transfers and elevations to the High Courts and Supreme Court.

What are the new state of affairs?

  • The recommendations will be uploaded on the Supreme Court’s official website.
  • The Collegium is also going to indicate the reasons for which it has decided to recommend or reject names for appointment, transfer or elevation to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court has already posted online detailed reasons for its October 3, 2017 recommendations for judicial appointments to the Madras HC and the Kerala HC.

What does indicating the reason mean?

  • This means every time the collegium forwards the names of candidates to the government for appointment as judges, it would automatically place the names and the reasons for the recommendation before the public.

Why such steps have been taken?

  • Stating the reason for recommendations will counter the allegations that was earlier put on the collegium.
  • The allegations were such that the collegium has, under political pressure, cleared the names of individuals who turned out to be inefficient and sometimes corrupt.
  • For instance, former judge K Chandru had questioned how retired Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan –currently serving a six-month jail sentence for contempt of court had made it through the collegium’s appointment process.
  • The latest row over the transfer and subsequent resignation of Justice Jayant Patel of Karnataka High Court has become one of the reason to bring in the transparency.

What were the criticism over functioning of collegium?

  • The criticism had grown after the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission(NJAC) as unconstitutional in 2015.
  • The NJAC was proposed as a replacement for the collegium, which is made up of the chief justice of India and the top court’s four most senior judges.
  • In contrast, the Commission included the chief justice of India, the Supreme Court’s two most senior judges, the law minister, and two “eminent persons” – who would be nominated by the chief justice, the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • The idea behind it was to make appointments to the higher judiciary more transparent. The collegium’s decisions were a closely-guarded secret and beyond public scrutiny. They were also kept out of the purview of the Right to Information Act.

What will be the Centre’s role now?

  • Placing collegium resolutions in the public domain, pressure is likely to build on the Union government to make its side of the process transparent as well.
  • Though the collegium’s recommendations are usually accepted without objection, there have been instances of the Centre turning down names for reasons such as adverse intelligence inputs.
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