What is the collegium system?
The collegium system is a "closed group consisting of the Chief Justice of India and the four most senior associate judges of the court", who are consulted by the President for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.
NJAC Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha
- Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the NJAC bill and the 121st constitutional amendment bill in the Lok Sabha.
- While the amendment sought to include the composition of the commission into the constitution, the bill includes the procedure to be followed for appointment and transfer of judges.
- Any appointment can be vetoed by any 2 members of NJAC.
What is National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC)?
NJAC would be responsible for transfer and appointment of judges in higher judiciary. NJAC would comprise of CJI, 2 senior-most judges of SC after CJI, Law Minister and 2 eminent persons.
Presidents signs the 121st amendment Bill
- President signed the 121st constitutional amendment bill to make way for the formation of NJAC.
- The Constitutional amendment bill and the NJAC bill have been passed by the parliament and would come into force on the date specified by the Government.
- Constitutional amendment bill also requires ratification from atleast half of the states.
- 17 state legislatures have ratified the bill.
SC finds NJAC act unworkable
- The SC hinted that it may quash the NJAC Act as it had identified some 'unworkable conditions'.
- The Act won't come into force until notified in the official-gazette.
- Since the constitution stands amended after the President's nod, there will neither be a commission nor a collegium, if the act is nullified.
- Under the collegium system, a five-judge committee appoints judges to higher judiciary.
NJAC won’t work until its validity is justified
- Government told the SC that NJAC won't make any new appointments until its constitutional validity is justified.
- NJAC would only look into appointment of existing additional HC judges whose tenure may end during the existing controversy.
- Government assured that it would move to the court in case of any new appointment in HC or SC during the controversy.
Government requests SC for CJIs participation
- Government requested the SC to ask CJI HL Dattu to participate in consultation process which will lead to formation of National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
- CJI was called on to pick 2 eminent persons to sit in NJAC, after consulation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
- NJAC would replace the collegium system for appointment of judges.
CJI refrains from coming on NJAC board
- Chief Justice of India H L Dattu refused to participate in the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) till the Supreme Court resolved the matter of its constitutional legality.
- This sparked strain has left the "new mechanism for the appointment of judges" to the Supreme Court and High Courts hanging.
- He refused to attend a meeting with PM and Leader of Opposition on the issue.
Justice delayed due to NJAC tussle
Due to the ongoing tussle between the judiciary and government, judiciary appointments have come to a halt. The high courts only have half the judges and about 400 vacancies. In the meantime, the total number of pending cases is 3 crore and rising.
SC gives death sentence to NJAC Act
- The Supreme Court came down on the NJAC law aimed to take the 20 year old "collegium system of judges appointing judges in higher judiciary."
- The SC refused to uphold the 99th Constitutional Amendment to bring in the NJAC.
- Further, the bench termed the 2014 NJAC Act as "unconstitutional and void".
- However, they invited suggestions to improve the prevailing collegium system.
Government gives recommendations to make Collegium 'transparent'
- The Constitution Bench is expected to bring in suggestions to make the collegium system "better".
- It will aim to make clear the mechanism to delegate judges to the higher judiciary.
- As a part of the suggestions, the government said that judgment for picking or declining a candidate judge must be put in the public field.
- The government also sought gender diversity in the system.
Government may offer suggestions under the collegium system
- The SC ruled that the government could offer suggestions for superior court judge appointments under the collegium system.
- This ruling came after Modi government had asked that President, PM and Attorney-General be given power to make recommendations to collegium.
- The Centre further requested the SC that appointment of judges in HC should begin under the collegium system and pending cases start getting disposed.