Concerns over Judicial Appointments

May 13, 2019
14 days

What is the issue?

The government and the Supreme Court collegium seem to consistently disagree on recommendations for judicial appointments.

What is the recent happening?

  • The latest development concerns Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice Aniruddha Bose and Gauhati High Court Chief Justice A.S. Bopanna.
  • Both of them were recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court.
  • But the government had sought a reconsideration of the two names.
  • The collegium has now repeated its recommendations.
  • It has emphasised that there is nothing adverse against the two judges in terms of their “conduct, competence and integrity”.
  • It has also asserted that there was no reason to agree with the government.
  • Under the present procedure, the government is now bound to accept the recommendation.

What is the concern?

  • Routinely, some recommendations for High Court appointments, as well as elevation to the Supreme Court, have met with disapproval from the government.
  • In such instances, it requires reiteration by the collegium for the names to be cleared.
  • This is not always a cause for concern if it is a sign of some serious consultation on the suitability of those recommended.
  • However, it becomes a concern when government’s objections suggest an indirect motive to delay the appointment of particular nominees.
  • In all, the advisability of retaining the collegium system of appointments is a major issue.
  • In terms of process, the huge number of vacancies in the various High Courts and lower courts is another concern.
  • As on May 1, 2019 the total number of vacancies in all the High Courts is 396.
  • Now, the Supreme Court is keen to fill up the current vacancies.
  • It has also recommended two more judges.
  • If all these four recommendations go through, the court will have its full complement of 31 judges.

What is the way forward?

  • Filling up of the vacancies is a continuous and collaborative process involving the executive and the judiciary.
  • The process depends on the relative speed with which the collegium initiates proposals and makes recommendations after internal deliberations.
  • The time the government takes to process the names is another determinant factor.
  • So there cannot practically be a fixed time frame for this process.
  • However, it is time to think of a permanent, independent body to institutionalise the process.
  • The proposal for a constitutionally empowered council to make judicial appointments ought to be revived, with adequate safeguards for judiciary’s independence.
  • In all, it is high time for a systemic and processual overhaul in regards with judicial appointments.


Source: The Hindu

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