The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce tomorrow the verdict on bringing transparency in the collegium system of appointing judges in higher judiciary.
The collegium system of judges appointing judges, which had come into being in 1993 and now stands revived after a five-judge constitution bench recently struck down Centre’s legislation, the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and enabling 99th Constitutional amendment.
The Constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar had reserved its order on November 19 after hearing suggestions by various lawyers, bar bodies and associations on improving the collegium system.
The bench, also comprising justices J Chelameswar, M B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Goel, had reserved its verdict after hearing arguments as it had, in an unprecedented move, invited suggestions from all those who desired to improve the “collegium system” of judicial appointments.
During the hearing, the Centre had expressed inability before the apex court in formulating the draft Memorandum of Procedure (MOP) for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary.
The Centre’s response had come on court’s direction, entrusting the government with the task of framing a draft MOP after considering all suggestions on the issue.
The bench, while reserved its judgement, had made clear that the “process of appointment of judges through the collegium system shall not be put on hold.”
However, new Chief Justice T S Thakur has recently said that instead of going ahead with the appointments, he would like to see the judgement of the constitution bench.
The Centre had expressed its inability to formulate the draft MoP saying that it was not possible to such a document for vetting by judiciary.
Rohatgi had also expressed apprehensions as to whether the instant exercise would lead to “supplementing or supplanting” the earlier framework of the collegium system, which had come into being by virtue of a 9-judge bench verdict, by a bench of smaller strength.
Justice Khehar, speaking for the bench, had said that as far as this MoP is concerned, the whole exercise was aimed for our understanding and “we make it clear that we would be supplementing and not supplanting”.
A lot of lawyers today gave suggestions ranging from quota for OBC, SC and ST and minorities on the ground that if other sectors are open for them then the judiciary is not “sacrosanct”.