Collegium system – Today Current Affairs
- The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended the appointment of five new Chief Justices in the High Courts.
Collegium System and Its Development:
- It is a system of appointment and transfer of judges, which has evolved through decisions of the Supreme Court, not established by an Act of Parliament or a provision of the Constitution.
Today Current Affairs
Development of Collegium System:
First Judge Case (1981):
- It stipulated that the “principle” of the suggestion of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on judicial appointments and transfers can be rejected for “substantial reasons”.
- This decision has established the primacy of the executive over the judiciary in judicial appointments for the next 12 years.
Second Judge Case (1993):
- The Supreme Court introduced the collegium system by clarifying that “consultation” actually means “consent”.
- In this case the Supreme Court further said that it would not be the personal opinion of the CJI, but an institutional opinion taken in consultation with the two senior most judges of the Supreme Court.
Third Judge Case (1998):
- Following a presidential reference issued by the President, the Supreme Court expanded the collegium as a five-member body consisting of the CJI and his four senior-most aides.
Head of Collegium System : The Hindu Analysis
- The Supreme Court Collegium is presided over by the CJI and includes four other senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
- The Collegium of a High Court is headed by its Chief Justice and four other senior-most judges of that Court.
- Names recommended for appointment by the High Court Collegium reach the Government only after the approval of the CJI and the Supreme Court Collegium.
- The judges of the higher judiciary are appointed through the collegium system and the role of the government in this process is only after the collegium is nominated.
Prescribed procedure for various judicial appointments : The Hindu Analysis
Chief Justice of India (CJI):
- The CJI and other judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of India.
- The outgoing CJI recommends the name of his successor with reference to the next CJI.
- However, since the infringement controversy of the 1970s, it is practically followed by seniority.
Supreme Court Judges:
- The proposal for selection of names for other judges of the Supreme Court is initiated by the CJI.
- The CJI consults with the rest of the members of the Collegium as well as the senior-most Judge of the High Court to which the person recommended for the post of Judge belongs.
- Consultants are required to submit their opinion in writing as per the prescribed procedure and it should be made part of the file.
- After this the collegium sends its recommendation to the Union Law Minister, through which it is sent to the Prime Minister to advise the President.
For the Chief Justice of the High Court:
- The Chief Justice of the High Court is appointed on the basis that the person to be appointed as the Chief Justice shall not be from the State concerned but from any other State.
- Although the decision of selection is taken by the collegium.
- Judges of the High Court are recommended by a collegium consisting of the CJI and two senior-most judges.
- However, the proposal for this is moved by the outgoing Chief Justice of the concerned High Court after consultation with his two senior most colleagues.
- This recommendation is sent to the Chief Minister, who advises the Governor to send this proposal to the Union Law Minister.
Criticism of Collegium System : The Hindu Analysis
- Lack of clarity and transparency.
- Possibility of discrepancies like nepotism.
- Engaging in public disputes.
- Many talented junior judges and advocates overlooked.
Efforts to improve the recruitment system : The Hindu Analysis
- An attempt by the ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission’ (via the 99th Amendment Act, 2014) to replace it was rejected by the Court in 2015 on the grounds that it was a threat to the independence of the judiciary.