The Chief Justice of India has rejected the government’s move to put in place a committee of retired judges to evaluate the applications of candidates before forwarding them to the collegium to decide whether to recommend their names for elevation or appointment as judges.
CJI T S Thakur expressed his reservations over the clause in the revised draft memorandum of procedure (MoP) when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who headed the Group of Ministers which drafted the MoP, and Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda met him at his residence on Wednesday evening.
Parliament had enacted the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act to do away with the over two-decade old collegium system where judges appoint judges. The law was struck down by the apex court on October 16 last year.
A Supreme Court bench, while deciding on ways to make the collegium system more transparent, had asked the Centre to redraft the MoP in consultation with the states.
The MoP is a document which guides the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts. At present, there are two MoPs — one for the apex court and the other for the high courts.
The government had sent the MoP to the SC collegium in March. The CJI had returned the document in May raising objections to the various clauses.
Wednesday’s meeting was aimed at narrowing down the differences between the executive and the judiciary on MoP.
At the meeting, Justice Thakur said the committee of retired judges to evaluate the applications by candidates for appointment was unacceptable, highly placed source said.
The government wanted the proposed committee to evaluate the experience of aspirants in detail before making recommendations to the collegium for taking a final call.
One committee was proposed at the Supreme Court level and 24 others for each of the high courts.
While the government and the collegium were on the same page on having secretariats in high courts to process judicial appointments, the judiciary had earlier opposed defining the role of the proposed secretariat.
At the meeting, however, there was an agreement on defining the role and functions of the secretariat.