For some reason no one can fathom, the CJI’s collegium becomes a lame duck during his last month, while his court retains every power till the last minute of his last day in office.


What are the issues with collegium?

  • The problem, as has been the problem with the collegium, is that there is nobody in it to ask questions to it. Time and again, it has been widely commented that this is an extra-constitutional or non-constitutional body brought in force by judgments of the Supreme Court virtually wresting the power of appointment of judges.
  • The Constitution of India gave the last word to the President of India but mandated consultation with the Court. These judgments give the last word to the Court mandating consultation with the government.
  • Not only that, what makes the problem even worse is that there is no seat in the collegium for any non judge — neither from the executive, the Bar or anywhere else. In other words, there is no one to offer suggestions or raise questions or even to observe what is going on.


Killing of the NJAC

  • In 2014, Parliament by unanimity — mark the word unanimity — backed by State legislatures enacted the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC); it comprised three judges, the Law Minister and two eminent persons to handle the task of appointing judges. By a 4:1 majority, the Supreme Court struck that down, setting at naught the entire legislative will of the country which was trying to reverse a constitutional coup.
  • If the Court was concerned about being overruled in appointments, it could have just tinkered with and read down the Act, deleted the second eminent person and thus secured a situation where the judges were in the majority. This would have secured judicial primacy, provided for some executive involvement as well as had one person representing a larger public constituency.
  • The point is that this will at least provide a place at the table for the question why and the question why not to be asked. There can be accountability and perceived performance only when these questions can be asked and have to be answered. Otherwise there will be insularity and opacity.


Way forward

It is time to revisit this question and secure a better, broad-based and transparent method of appointing senior judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.


SourceThe Hindu


QUESTION – What is the collegium system? How did it evolve over the years? Has there been any attempt to reform the system of appointment of judges? Discuss the issue in brief.