The Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, and the executive have reportedly attained a certain level of consensus on the new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for judicial appointments. The Collegium has withdrawn its opposition to the Government proposal to strike down a candidate’s name on the grounds of “national security”.
The Collegium, on the other hand, has demanded that the Government should specify reasons for rejecting a name forwarded to it by the Apex Court. Further, the Collegium intends to retain the power to reject the Government’s decision and reinstate a recommendation.
However, the Collegium has rejected the Government’s suggestion for an independent Secretariat to screen the nominated Judges. It reportedly feels that appointing a separate secretariat and screening committee to vet the names would “not only impinge on the independence of the judiciary, but could also lead to prospective names being leaked” which can’t be accepted. The Collegium, hence, wishes to continue the current practice of personal staff of the five Judges, constituting the collegium, dealing with the issue. The modified MoP will soon be sent to the Government for its approval.
The meeting, held on Friday, was attended by CJI Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Madan B. Lokur. The third senior-most Judge, Justice J. Chelameswar, however, did not attend the meeting, in keeping with his decision to boycott collegium meetings unless greater transparency by recording decisions was ensured.
Justice Chelameswar was the lone dissenter in the NJAC judgment delivered by the five-Judge Constitution bench in October last year. He had not only upheld the NJAC law passed by Parliament, but had found the Collegium system of appointments lacking in transparency and effectiveness. Subsequently, however, he joined the rest in the consequential judgment on the Collegium, delivered in December, because it sought to improve the Collegium system.
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