NJAC Battle Continues: Law Minister Asks CJI To Include Govt Representative In Collegium
The Centre has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud, suggesting the inclusion of government representatives in the 25-year-old Supreme Court-created two-tiered collegiums.
This move is reportedly aimed at increasing transparency and public accountability in the selection process of constitutional court judges.
The letter by the Law Minister Kiren Rijiju to the CJI is the latest in a series of criticism by constitutional authorities, including the Vice-President and Lok Sabha Speaker. They have also accused the SC of often encroaching into the domain of the legislature.
In the letter to the CJI, the Law Minister suggested that government representatives be included in the SC collegium and representatives from concerned state governments be included in the High Court collegium to dispel the notion that opaqueness shrouds the process for selection of constitutional court judges, reports Times of India.
The content of the letter is reportedly in line with the thinking in the top circles of the government, which believe in a decade-old statement of Justice Ruma Pal.
Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Ruma Pal, had expressed her concerns about the opaqueness of the process for selection of judges in a statement made a decade ago.
She had said that the process of appointing judges to superior courts was "one of the best kept secrets in this country."
The suggestions for amendment to the method of procedure (MoP) by the Law Minister, however, may not find acceptance of the CJI-led five-judge collegium, which comprises Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, K M Joseph, M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi.
The Supreme Court reportedly views the Centre's move as an attempt to bring back the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, which was passed by the parliament but was quashed as unconstitutional by a five-judge SC bench in October 2015.
The SC is reportedly of the opinion that this suggestion is a fresh attempt to bring through backdoor shades of National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, which was passed unanimously by the Parliament but quashed as unconstitutional by a five-judge SC bench in October 2015.
The Apex court believes that this move is an attempt to bring back the act through the backdoor, according to the ToI report.
The Centre's move to directly engage with the Chief Justice of India by writing a letter suggesting amendments to the Method of Procedure (MoP) is a significant change in its approach.
This move comes after the Centre's functionaries made critical statements about the collegium and the functioning of the Supreme Court.
According to the report, this appears to be a structured strategy to address the challenges of the judicial orders and observations by an SC bench headed by Justice Kaul, who is also part of the collegium, to speed up implementation of collegium recommendations on appointments and transfers of judges.
The report cited government sources as using the the maxim 'nemo judex in causa sua' to argue against the Supreme Court's approach in the selection of judges.
The maxim, which is often used by the SC in its judgments, means "no man shall be a judge in his own cause."
The Centre has argued that this principle should also apply to the members of the collegium who are involved in selecting judges, and that they should not pass orders on the judicial side
There is a section within the Supreme Court too that holds the belief that judges who are part of the collegium to select judges, should not pass orders on the judicial side directing the implementation of the recommendations to which he is a party on the administrative side.
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