NJAC case: Factor in merit, integrity in choosing judges, Government tells Supreme Court

Proposes performance appraisal, evaluation of past verdicts; note sent to Chief Justice of India.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: March 7, 2016 2:57 am
Law Ministry, Supreme Court, PMO, PM Modi, News, India News, CJI T S Thakur, CHI, New Judges appointment rules, judicial reform india, india news, nation news The Supreme Court of India.

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.

The new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), finalised by a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last week, seeks to introduce performance appraisal as a standard for appointing chief justices of high courts and Supreme Court judges.

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According to the MoP, 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.

It further states that 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.

CaptureThe new MoP proposes that for 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”.

Notably, the earlier MoP drafted in 1999 did not mention “merit and integrity” as eligibility criteria.

Advocating “fair representation” of all high courts in picking SC judges, the government has said 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”.

At present, no records are put in public domain by the Collegium to show why a judge is not elevated to the Supreme Court despite his seniority.

Another key change being sought by the NDA government pertains to appointment of lawyers and jurists as judges. The MoP states that 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.

Further, 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.

The other proposals in the MoP, which has been forwarded to CJI T S Thakur for consultation, are:

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.

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.

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.

A permanent secretariat for the High Court Collegium to process appointments.

After it quashed the proposed National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench had, in December 2015, left it to the Centre to consult the CJI for drafting the new memorandum for appointments of judges to the higher judiciary. The Bench had listed “broad suggestions for consideration” but refrained from issuing positive directives to improve the Collegium system.

No judge has been appointed in the apex court for over a year owing to the stalemate over validity of the NJAC and the subsequent procedure to draft the MoP.

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  1. T
    Thief.Justices.of.India
    Mar 7, 2016 at 2:32 am
    Merit: Praising Modi after becoming Thief Justice of India like HL DUTTA. Integrity: Supervising the attack on Kanhaiya kumar after 'Drama'tically asking the police to protect him and after that taking absolutely no action.
    Reply
    1. S
      Self.Annihilation.of.brahmins.have.started
      Mar 7, 2016 at 2:35 am
      How to bribe a Supreme CORRUPT Judge: Offer him/her lucrative post retirement position- CHORman of NHRC, CHORman of PCI, GOVERNOR, CHORman of future rape commissions( rapes will be arranged by police).
      Reply
      1. L
        Legalize.please
        Mar 7, 2016 at 2:40 am
        What about exams in the darkness conducted by Mumbai models in the hotels of Mauritius and their Swiss bank accounts in all the Swiss branches there? European junkets? I kindly request Modiji to make all such things LEGAL so the judges can enjoy too in their old age.
        Reply
        1. C
          Cannon
          Mar 7, 2016 at 3:57 am
          Headed by Sushma Swaraj? Interesting! She is the prime accused in the conversion of stolen black money through Liechtenstein!!!!!!! and a close ociate and partner of The other Modi. What a laughter I am getting.
          Reply
          1. G
            Gopu.Kumar
            Mar 7, 2016 at 3:53 am
            There are so many KIDS who ask for performance appraisal: for their information: performance of MLAs and MPs means the amount of money he/she generates by any means for their respective PARTY FUND. Don't show you are gullible 'Indians'.
            Reply
            1. M
              MyTake
              Mar 7, 2016 at 12:14 am
              All top positions should be based on merit so more of well thought out initiatives are taken, high spirit prevails and more jobs are created.
              Reply
              1. M
                MyTake
                Mar 7, 2016 at 12:11 am
                India's quota and reservation which sounds nice and humane is actually stan's strength as far as India is concerned. India need to find ways to make its strength stan's weakness without leaving the poor behind.
                Reply
                1. B
                  Bharat
                  Mar 7, 2016 at 3:31 am
                  Judges should not be allowed to work in their home state. A judge of Madras must be allowed to work only in Northern states and not in South India. This will reduce corruption to a large extent
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    Campbell Donoma
                    Mar 7, 2016 at 12:12 am
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                    Reply
                    1. K
                      Kaliyug
                      Mar 7, 2016 at 2:33 am
                      Democracy can only survive with a robust judiciary where the decisions of the Judges are taken as final in any kind of judgement by both the parties. If you appoint corrupt and inept judges then they will pander to the politicians and ruin the judiciary. The brightest and best should be in the courts and not the ones seeking the back-doors playing caste based politics or nepotism.
                      Reply
                      1. D
                        Deeply Concerned
                        Mar 7, 2016 at 1:46 am
                        All of the tenets of democracy is being demoralised and judiciary is now under the gravest threat since independence. What is the performance criteria and who decides on the performance levels and analyze the judgements. What if judgements given turn out to be poor? And what is the remedy for the accused who is made into a criminal by the judgement? What is the level of political influence in these appointments? Why should the ruling Govt be so adamant to decide on who should be the judges and what consutes merit? Dont they trust the SC panels? If yes why
                        Reply
                        1. D
                          Deeply Concerned
                          Mar 7, 2016 at 1:51 am
                          Judgements are available to the public and any injustice comes to the public domain including personal lives of judges. And SC steps in where there is blatant mistakes or rcen a small scope of doubt. So will these performances appraissals be made public for people to knownwhich judge was not up to the mark with his judgements so that the affected can get remedy and compensation from Govt. Currently performance appraisals are confidential wrt to comments and observations. Why should this happen to Judges and on what basis are the govt going to decide which judgement is correct and wrong???
                          Reply
                          1. H
                            H.Balakrishnan
                            Mar 7, 2016 at 6:47 am
                            If there is one lot in public service that has no accountability to anyone - it is the judiciary. Time to end this Raj.
                            Reply
                            1. M
                              Manian K
                              Mar 7, 2016 at 8:27 am
                              YES. OBJECTIVITY IN SAVING 'FIVE STAR' ACTIVISTS AND RAPISTS? WE RECENTLY SAW THE OBJECTIVITY IN FULL PLAY WHEN A MADRAS HC JUDGE DIRECTED POLICE TO REGISTER FIR AGAINST SC JUDGES.
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                Abdulmajeed Khan
                                Mar 7, 2016 at 12:27 am
                                Criteria of merit and integrity should never be compromised and is essential need of hour, secondly secretariat for receiving complaint is most essential factor, that judgments contrary to law delivered to be submitted by the advocates to the secretariat consuted in this regard and in addition, there should be same procedure adopted in subordinate judiciary, that they too shall be elevated only after their merit and integrity and meritless shall be stopped to go to higher responsibilities. If this procedure will be implemented, there will be great progress in the Judiciaries in India. At present, there is no accountability in this regard, which can affect the careers of irresponsibility.
                                Reply
                                1. K
                                  K N
                                  Mar 7, 2016 at 4:38 am
                                  Like all other organs of government Judiciary needs to be made accountable .No one can be allowed to become unaccountable in the name of independence of judiciary .
                                  Reply
                                  1. K
                                    Kulmohan Singh
                                    Mar 7, 2016 at 7:30 am
                                    Remove objectivity, bring in subjectivity ? Masked in the words MERIT, INTEGRITY is the deep rooted desire of BJP Government to appoint judges that place RSS Ideology first
                                    Reply
                                    1. A
                                      ashok
                                      Mar 7, 2016 at 7:11 am
                                      Not just " factor in ". Nothing apart from merit and integrity should count.
                                      Reply
                                      1. A
                                        Abhijith pattan
                                        Mar 7, 2016 at 4:19 am
                                        I am a lawyer who has put in more than 50 years of service and I am of the firm opinion that no lawyer should be considered for the post of the Judge of the Supreme Court if his close family members like parents, spouse or children are practising in the same Court unless the said relative renders an undertaking that he or she shall cease practice in the said Court in the event of the lawyer concerned being selected for the Judge’s post. I consider it unethical if a person coming within the ambit of the above category is considered for the post on the specious ground of freedom of the relative/s to practice in the same Court in the absence of the undertaking referred to above..
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          Abhijith pattan
                                          Mar 7, 2016 at 4:27 am
                                          I am a lawyer who has put in more than 50 years of service and I am of the firm opinion that no lawyer should be considered for the post of the Judge of the Supreme Court if his close family members like parents, spouse or children are practising in the same Court unless the said relative renders an undertaking that he or she shall cease practice in the said Court in the event of the lawyer concerned being selected for the Judge’s post. I consider it unethical if a person coming within the ambit of the above category is considered for the post on the specious ground of freedom of the relative/s to practice in the same Court in the absence of the undertaking referred to above. This letter is written by Swaminadhan Krishnamoorthy
                                          Reply
                                          1. M
                                            madan gupta
                                            Mar 7, 2016 at 12:06 am
                                            सुप्रीम कोर्ट में 50 % दलित को जज रखा जाये. मिलिट्री में भी 50 % दलित को अफसर बनाया जाये. क्या खाने के लिए स्वर्ण ही रह गए और हलवा खाने को दलित?
                                            Reply
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