The Court and the problem with its collegium

Source: The post is based on an article The Court and the problem with its collegium” published in The Hindu on 13th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

News: The Chief Justice of India, Justice U.U. Lalit is set to vacate his office on November 8, 2022. He along with his collegium has the task to name the successor for the next CJI but it seems there have been problems with the names.

What are the problems with the collegium system, as per the author?

Following are the issues, as per the author of the source article Sriram Panchu. He is a Senior Advocate of Madras High Court.

The problem with collegium is that there is no one in the collegium to check the problems and working of the collegium.

It is an extra-constitutional body brought in existence by the judgments if the Supreme Court which provides power of appointment to the judges only and thus creating issues.

The Constitution of India provided that the President of India will appoint the judges of the after consulting the court. However, the judgements of the SC for the collegium have reversed it and appointment has been done by the court with the consultation with the government.

Further, there is no seat in the collegium for any non-judge neither from the executive, the Bar or anywhere else to raise the functioning of the collegium.

The SC also struck down National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). It comprised three judges, the Law Minister and two eminent persons to handle the task of appointing judges.

There were concerns that three judges in NJAC may be overruled in the appointment of judges.

However, the probable option could have been to struck down the second eminent person from the Act and secure a situation where the judges were in the majority.

This could have secured judicial primacy, with some executive involvement as well as had one person representing a larger public constituency. This would have been generated accountability in the appointment of judges.

What are other problems with the appointment of judges and what can be the course of action?

There have been no appointments from the category of distinguished jurists stated in Article 124 of the Constitution.

Further, appointments to the top court seem to be the preserve of judges from the High Courts along with a few appointments from the Bar.

Therefore, there is a need to secure a better, broad-based and transparent method of appointing senior judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

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