The Government of India has finalised the new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on Appointment of Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, reports 'The Indian Express'. As per the Report a note on new MoP has been sent to the Chief justice of India.
Indian Express’s Assistant Editor Utkrash Anand reports as follows;
“For the first time, the government has sought to include “merit and integrity” as “prime criteria” for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. It has also proposed selection of up to three lawyers and jurists as Supreme Court judges, documentation of the reasons why a senior judge was overlooked for elevation, and establishment of a permanent secretariat to maintain records.”
Following are the Major Recommendations in the new MoP1. Evaluation of judgments delivered by a High Court judge during the last five years and initiatives undertaken for improvement of judicial administration should be a yardstick of merit for promotion as Chief Justice of a High Court
2. A High court should not have an acting chief justice for more than three months, while awaiting appointment of a full-time Chief Justice by the Collegium
3. Appointment of Judges in the Supreme Court, the “prime criteria” should be “seniority as Chief Justice/ judge of the High Court” as well as “merit and integrity
4. In picking SC judges, preference should be given to the Chief Justices of High Courts, keeping in view their inter-se seniority. In case a senior Chief Justice of a High Court is being overlooked for elevation to the Supreme Court, “the reasons for the same (should) be recorded in writing
5. Up to three judges in the Supreme Court need to be appointed from among the eminent members of the Bar and distinguished jurists with proven track record in their respective fields
6. For appointing lawyers and jurists as judges, the government has proposed that “it shall be open to all judges of the Supreme Court” to make suitable recommendations to the Collegium, which comprises the Chief Justice of India and four senior-most judges of the apex court
7. A permanent secretariat to be set up in the Supreme Court for maintaining records of high court judges, scheduling meetings of the SC Collegium, receiving recommendations as well as complaints in matters related to appointments
8. The Union Law Minister should seek the recommendation of the incumbent CJI for appointment of his successor at least one month prior to his retirement
9. A notice for vacancies of judges should be put up on the website of the High Courts at the beginning of the year for appointments.
10. A permanent secretariat for the High Court Collegium to process appointments.
It was on December 16, 2015 the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court directed the Government to draft a new Memorandum of Proceedure [MoP] for appointment of High Court and Supreme Court Judges. The Bench issued the following broad Guidelines.
“In view of the above, the Government of India may finalize the existing Memorandum of Procedure by supplementing it in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. The Chief Justice of India will take a decision based on the unanimous view of the collegium comprising the four senior most puisne Judges of the Supreme Court. They shall take the following factors into consideration:
Eligibility criteriaThe Memorandum of Procedure may indicate the eligibility criteria, such as the minimum age, for the guidance of the collegium (both at the level of the High Court and the Supreme Court) for appointment of Judges, after inviting and taking into consideration the views of the State Government and the Government of India (as the case may be) from time to time.
Transparency in the appointment process; The eligibility criteria and the procedure as detailed in the Memorandum of Procedure for the appointment of Judges ought to be made available on the website of the Court concerned and on the website of the Department of Justice of the Government of India. The Memorandum of Procedure may provide for an appropriate procedure for minuting the discussions including recording the dissenting opinion of the Judges in the collegium while making provision for the confidentiality of the minutes consistent with the requirement of transparency in the system of appointment of Judges.
SecretariatIn the interest of better management of the system of appointment of Judges, the Memorandum of Procedure may provide for the establishment of a Secretariat for each High Court and the Supreme Court and prescribe its functions, duties and responsibilities.
ComplaintsThe Memorandum of Procedure may provide for an appropriate mechanism and procedure for dealing with complaints against anyone who is being considered for appointment as a Judge.
MiscellaneousThe Memorandum of Procedure may provide for any other matter considered appropriate for ensuring transparency and accountability including interaction with the recommendee(s) by the collegium of the Supreme Court, without sacrificing the confidentiality of the appointment process”.