May 13, 2019
3 months

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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