The Union Law Ministry has written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, stressing the need for a Search and Evaluation Committee (SEC) to bring more transparency and objectivity in the process of judicial appointment by the collegium. Is. system
In a letter dated January 6, the Center stressed that the government “is a key stakeholder in the process of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts” and therefore sought its views in preparing the panel of names. There should be a place. who are eligible to be appointed as judges of constitutional courts.
According to people familiar with the matter, the letter said that a representative of the central government should be a member of the SEC for appointing judges to the Supreme Court and chief justices of high courts. According to the letter, the SECs for appointing judges to the High Court should also have a representative of the state government.
However, the letter did not call for government representatives in the collegium itself, as some media reports have suggested.
“SECs shall be entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a panel of eligible candidates to which the respective collegiums shall make recommendations… The collegium at the appropriate level may fulfill the above requirement of preparing a panel of eligible candidates through the above means. and can prepare its action. Submitting the necessary reasons and thereafter send the proposal to the government along with the required documents,” the letter said.
Earlier reports that the Center wanted its own representatives in the collegium drew criticism from the opposition. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet that it was “extremely dangerous” and added that “there should be absolutely no government interference in judicial appointments.”
Law Minister Kiran Rijiju responded by pointing out that the Law Ministry’s letter was essentially a follow-up to the court’s own observation.
This is not the first time that the government has floated the idea of SEC.
Referring to his previous messages to the SC collegium in 2017, 2018 and 2021 regarding the SEC, the letter added: “You will appreciate that the structure of all the connected threads, once completed Once done, the campaign will pave the way,” the government said. Letter to CJI
The collegium of the Supreme Court consists of the CJI and four other senior-most judges of the court.
The government’s letter marks another chapter in the ongoing clash between the executive and the judiciary over the procedure for selecting judges and the division of powers between the two.
The controversy over the past few months has seen Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar and Union Law Minister Rijiju question the collegium system of appointing judges, while the Supreme Court responded with a stern reminder to the government that the collegium system is the law of the land. is necessary for The government will be followed by “a T”.
While there is a department to assist the collegium in considering names in the Supreme Court, the government, through its letter dated January 6, has urged to institutionalize the process by creating a pool of names that will finalize the appointments. will be sent to the collegium for giving. It has also suggested that other senior judges outside the collegium may also forward their recommendations to the concerned SEC.
According to people familiar with the matter, the letter emphasized that the government has repeatedly highlighted the need for the SEC in its previous proposals to complete the Memorandum of Procedure (MOP), which is constitutional. Guides the appointment of judges to courts.
Following the Supreme Court’s December 2015 order that required reforms in the existing collegium system, the government said it had already given its inputs but was yet to consider them.
In 2014, the NDA government passed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, which established an alternative system for appointing judges to constitutional courts that also proposed a greater role for the government in the process. Presented But in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it attempted to tamper with the independence of the judiciary.
At the same time, the court recognized that the existing system of judicial appointments needed some reforms, and agreed to review the MoP to address concerns regarding certain aspects, namely eligibility criteria, transparency. initiatives, establishment of a secretariat, and a Grievance Procedure
Later, a series of exchanges began between the government and the collegium to amend the MoP. While the collegium had sent its final draft of the MoP to the government in March 2017, the law ministry had raised the issue with the SEC through its letters in July 2017 and August 2021. It is expected to make it transparent, fast and objective.
The 2017 and 2021 letters proposed the SEC as a body that could include former judges, academicians and other experts and the membership of the SEC could be decided by the CJI in consultation with the central government.
The government also pointed out that being a subsidiary body, the SEC would not in any way limit the authority and autonomy of the collegium in the selection of judges.
(Tags Translation) Chief Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud (T) Judiciary Appointment (T) Supreme Court