House panel on justice warns: National security clause gives Govt veto power

The Committee apprehends that the government may reject any name duly approved by the Supreme Court collegium under the veil of those parameters.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: December 9, 2016 5:19 am
 judicial appointments, national security, veto power, government veto power, Supreme Court, collegium appointment, judges appointment, pending cases, Memorandum of Procedure, judiciary, chief justice of india, NJAC, indian express news, india news Supreme Court. (File Photo)

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on law and justice noted on Thursday that the government may assume a “veto power” and reject any name recommended by the Supreme Court collegium for appointment as a judge if it succeeds in inserting clauses of “national security” and “larger public interests” in the proposed Memorandum of Procedure (MoP).

Raising the red flag amid an ongoing tussle between the executive and the judiciary over appointment of judges, the panel said that the government’s insistence on adding stipulations of “national security” and “larger public interests” gave rise to serious apprehensions regarding the finalisation of the revised MoP, which would guide all future appointments.

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“The Committee apprehends that the government may reject any name duly approved by the Supreme Court collegium under the veil of those parameters. This would tantamount to giving veto power to the government, which is not the mandate of the Constitution,” stated the 87th report of the parliamentary standing committee that was examining reasons for delay in judges’ appointments.

In making such observations, the panel, chaired by Congress leader Anand Sharma, has concurred with the views of Chief Justice of India T S Thakur and the SC collegium, which has rejected the government’s proposal to empower it to trash any recommendation on these grounds.

The panel, in its report, has recommended that the terms “national security” and “larger public interests” should be defined in unambiguous terms along with listing circumstances and situations that would come within the purview of these two clauses.

It also underlined the delay on the part of the government in processing the names recommended by collegium in high courts and the Supreme Court for appointments as judges. According to the information adduced before the panel by the Department of Justice on November 29, the government has in some cases taken even 11 months to forward the names to the Supreme Court collegium.

The panel also said that the collegium, too, in high courts and in the Supreme Court, have also delayed in making recommendations in time which has often resulted in the clubbing of vacancies arising over a number of years. The Committee recommended that an institutional mechanism, preferably a dedicated Cell in the court registry, be put in place to adhere to timelines for filling up vacancies.

The panel recommended increasing the retirement age of judges of the Supreme Court from 65 to 67, and of high court judges from 62 to 65. Besides, it said that the Chief Justice of India as well as chief justices of high courts should have a minimum tenure after noting that collegium, in several instances, had become dysfunctional due to retirement or elevation of the chief justice and failed to initiate process for filling up vacancies.

Since 1997, out of 17 CJIs, only three had a tenure of more than two years. Former CJI S Rajendra Babu had a tenure of less than a month.

Describing judicial appointments as a shared responsibility of the executive and the judiciary, the panel urged both the institutions to resolve their differences quickly in public interest and finalise the MoP so that appointments go through.

The panel found fault with a five-judge bench quashing the 99th constitutional amendment and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). It said that all cases involving questions on validity of constitutional amendments should be heard by a bench comprising not less than 11 judges while a bench having at least seven judges should hear other matters relating to constitutional provisions.

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  1. RAJ आंतिल
    Dec 9, 2016 at 1:30 am
    Veto power in d name of "national security" n "public interest" of Govt.#appointmentofjudges
    1. B
      Dec 9, 2016 at 3:31 am
      Hitler is not born but is made. If public support a man or his doctrine then hitler type person may be created. Public is responsible to create hitler. Stopping the hitler we have a consution and we should go as per the consutional guide line. Consution is so designed for not to form a hitler type man. But what we see now a days that insution are very much interested in enjoying independent power without any liability. That really moves towards becoming the hitler. If the power you enjoy will not be reviewed then what is the guarantee that always you do well. Hence the democratic set up of administration is the best choice. In case Govt doing mistake then it can be thrown out. We have seen the in the past the strength of our consution. After emergency Govt was thrown out of mpower. In India becoming a hitler is very very difficult task . It is the opposition mind what make the issue out of proportion when picture of modi comes to mind. I still believe that the ultimate choice should be with elected authority rather than with selected authority. Consution also saying same thing. Supreme court can advice the Govt/President in certain matter but should not be the final authority in any new creativity. SC has some limit. He has to move within the consutional right . SC is not empowered to create anything new he is only to follow what is created by the people/Govt and nothing new.
      1. R
        Dec 9, 2016 at 8:08 am
        Judiciary has only job of interpreting the laws and giving correct interpretation, nothing more. But recently we have seen these pompous SC judges talking loosely on envy thing not connected with their responsibility in the name os 'su moto decision' like taking priority hearing of bail peions of corrupt judicial colleagues like Teesta Javed, Indira Jaisingh etc, saying there will be riots regarding demonetization, asking governments to make certain laws as they think it is good for society etc and worst insisting that judiciary is above everyone else like parliament, executive and even president as was seen in Arunachal embly case and insisting on self appointment and promotion etc. without any say for executive which pays for it as well has mandate of people. Time to rollback judiciary within its limits according to consution and ask them to focus on pending millions of cases without taking those long vacation breaks and wasting on cases not relevant to them. Why do SC overthrow every single decision of HC and make all lower court decisions irrelevant? It is because of SC we see today convicted cook like Lalu free doing dirty politics in Bihar and iSI agent like Teesta Javed and Indira Jaisingh roam free!
        1. G
          Dec 9, 2016 at 1:56 am
          That will be the end of the road for the Indian Judiciary. National security is used by all right wing govts to threaten powers that do not toe their line. Hitler did so. BJP is following suit.