Supreme Court Appoints Judges

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Supreme Court appoints judges

  • Recently, the Supreme Court has sought an explanation from the government on the delay in the appointment of judges.
  • The Supreme Court has underlined that the government is bound to accept the reconsideration decision of the collegium in matters of appointment of judges.
  • In this regard, the apex court has issued a notice to the Ministry of Law and Justice on the delay in the appointment of judges.
  • The total sanctioned strength of judges in the country’s 25 High Courts (HCs) is 1,108. However, as on October 1, 2022, only 772 judges were working and 336 posts were vacant.

Collegium System

  • It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges. The Supreme Court Collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and comprises four other senior-most judges of the apex court.
  • The High Court Collegium is headed by the current Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, while two other senior-most judges are its members.
  • This collegium sends its recommendations to the Supreme Court collegium.
  • The final decision is taken by a collegium headed by the CJI and the two senior most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • The judges of the higher judiciary are appointed only through the collegium system.

Various Cases related to collegium system

  • According to Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution, every judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the judiciary.
  • First Judge Case (1981): The Supreme Court ruled that here ‘consultation’ does not mean ‘concurrence’.
  • This means that the President is not bound to accept the advice of the judges.
  • Second Judges Case (1993): The decision in this case marked the beginning of the collegium system. The judgment said that “consultation really means” consent.
  • The top court said that the appointment should be recommended by the CJI in consultation with his two senior-most colleagues.
  • Third Judges Case (1998): The Supreme Court increased the number of judges in its collegium to five. Apart from the CJI, these include his four senior most colleagues.

Criticism of the collegium system

  • There is a lack of clarity and transparency in the appointments made by the collegium.
  • There is a possibility of appointment on the basis of nepotism or personal identity.
  • There is no fixed time limit as to when the collegium process will be completed.

National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC)

  • In order to end the opaque nature of the collegium system, the government introduced the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill, 2014.
  • However, this was rejected by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rejected it on the ground that it was a threat to the independence of the judiciary.

Qualifications of High Court Judges

  • As per Article 217(2) of the Constitution, a person shall not be eligible for appointment as a Judge of a High Court unless he,
  • If he is a citizen of India. Must have held judicial office for a minimum of 10 years in the territory of India or must have been an advocate of a High Court for a minimum of 10 years continuously.

Source – The Hindu

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