Amid ongoing tussle with the judiciary over speeding up the appointment process, the government wants a screening-cum-appraisal committee to be set up to assist the Supreme Court collegium in selection of judges.
Law ministry sources said there should be a committee comprising retired and sitting judges for screening of candidates to be considered for appointments by the collegium. The committee will function under the Chief Justice of India.
“The committee will do two things. It will evaluate all names for high court judgeship and forward to the collegium for consideration. Even Supreme Court judges can suggest names to the committee which will be part of the secretariat ordered to be set up by a constitution bench on December 16, 2015,” said a top source in the law ministry.
He said for appointment of Supreme Court judges, geographical reasons could be taken into account and outstanding talent should to be considered as per the Supreme Court’s verdict in 1993 and 1998 judges’ case.
The government — which was ordered to finalise the existing Memorandum of Procedure that details the process of appointment of judges — has prepared several drafts but the collegium has not been satisfied with its attempts.
The SC order made it clear that the eligibility criteria should be clearly laid down; the appointment procedure should be transparent and the entire process should be handled by a secretariat equipped to handle complaints against those being considered for judgeship. “The screening committee will examine all the claimants and submit to high court collegium with all records being sent to the Central Committee, comprising of chief justice of India and the collegiums,” he said.
The names proposed for appointment as Supreme Court judges should be examined on the basis of integrity and reputation and it should be clearly mentioned why he or she was fit or not fit for elevation to the SC. “The reasons should be part of a secret record,” the source said.