SC Collegium should include government representatives: Kiren Rijiju to CJI
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has reportedly written a letter to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud suggesting that the Supreme Court Collegium, which appoints the judges, should include central government representatives. The letter has cited transparency and public accountability of the appointment panel as reasons for the suggestion. Rijiju has also suggested the inclusion of state government representatives in High Court collegiums.
Why does this story matter?
- This development comes as a further escalation of the ongoing tug-of-war between the government and the judiciary.
- In November, Rijiju called the collegium system "opaque" and said India was the only country where judges appoint judges.
- Since coming to power in 2014, the BJP-led central government has been at odds with the judiciary, which accuses the former of attempting to control judicial appointments.
Finalization of MoP still pending
Rijiju's letter reportedly underlined the finalization of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) concerned with the appointment of judges was still pending. As per the MoP, if a decision is reaffirmed by the Collegium, the government is bound to accept it. Within three weeks, the Union law minister must put up the CJI's recommendation to the prime minister, who will advise the president on appointments.
Public posturing from judicial platforms not good: Vice President Dhankar
Last week, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar said, "Public posturing from judicial platforms is not good." Dhankar, who has earlier criticized the "opaqueness" of the judiciary, in his maiden Rajya Sabha address in December, too, hit out at the SC for scrapping the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC), which was established by an Act of Parliament, terming it a compromise of parliamentary sovereignty.
Advocates Association Bengaluru demands contempt proceedings against government
Meanwhile, the Advocates Association Bengaluru has moved a plea seeking contempt proceedings against the central government for delaying the appointment of judges despite the Collegium's recommendations. In November, the Centre returned 19 of the 21 names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for the appointment of High Court justices. The government stalled at least 10 names despite the Collegium reaffirming them in July 2022.
About the collegium system
Rijiju's letter is yet to be discussed by the SC Collegium, reports said. To note, the collegium system allows the Chief Justice of India and a panel of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court to recommend appointments and transfers of judges. The system was framed by the Supreme Court judgments in the "Three Judges Case" dating to October 28, 1998.