The Supreme Court collegium has reportedly rejected at least 38 recommendations made by several High Court collegiums, for appointment of High Court Judges.
Earlier this month, the Government had put on hold appointment of 110 Additional Judges in 10 High Courts, till the Supreme Court ratifies the revised draft of the Memorandum of Procedure. The recommendations had been made by Chief Justices of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, Orissa, Calcutta, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala High Courts.
The Draft Memorandum of Procedure, which was directed to be drafted by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in December last year, was earlier sent to the PMO’s office for approval. It has now been handed over to Chief Justice T.S. Thakur for final approval. The CJI is consulting other Judges on the MoP’s approval, after which it would be placed in public domain by the Department of Justice. In case CJI suggests changes to the MoP, it would be sent back to the Law Ministry for re-drafting of the same.
It was on December 16, 2015, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had directed the Government to draft a new Memorandum of Procedure [MoP] for appointment of High Court and Supreme Court Judges. The Court had issued following broad guidelines for consideration:
The 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.
In 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.
The 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.
The 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.”
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