Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict

Importance for Exams

Only from a mains perspective. Important to understand – MOP, Security Clause, RTI, JSA Bill.

The News

In October 2015, the SC bench in a majority of 4:1 rejected the NJAC Act and 99th Constitutional Amendment and Collegium was brought back in. The grounds stated were the following :
1. Primacy of the judiciary was not ensured which was mandatory for independence of Judiciary
2. Active role of executive was not desirable as the govt. was the litigant more than 60% of the times.
3. Other minor issues on eminent personality, etc.

FM Arun Jaitley criticized the ruling as “democracy becoming tyranny of the unelected”. To which former CJI Justice Lodha replied stating when the will of the people through elected representatives is opposed to the constitution, the judiciary ought to be governed by the latter.
Interestingly, one positive development out of this chaos has been judiciary’s acceptance of the flaws in the collegium system and its willingness to work with the executive to evolve it.

In this regard, the SC asked the Govt. to work on a revised MoP addressing the following issues of the Collegium –
1. Opaque working
2. Lack of objectivity
3. Lack of accountability
4. Missing broad-based consultations.

The revised MoP proposed the following
Nominations – Proposal is to setup a Technical Committee. This committee will accept nominations and hold wider consultations to select the best candidates.
Eligibility – a) The prime criteria will be Seniority along with b) Merit and integrity. In case a senior Chief Justice being overlooked for elevation   reasons for the same be recorded in writing.
Permanent Secretariat : maintaining records of high court judges, scheduling meetings of the SC Collegium, receiving recommendations as well as complaints in matters related to appointments, scrutinize data relating to prospective appointees, and lays down a judicial mechanism for redress of complaints against judges.

Points of contention
Most of the points mentioned above stand sorted except for the Security Clause.
Security Clause : The clause under which Govt will have powers to reject any candidate recommended by the collegium on grounds of public interest and national security. Revised draft proposes that the government will communicate to the collegium the reasons for rejecting any name recommended by it.



*Click here to read the previous developments*