Centre wants SC collegium to review scrapping additional judges’ evaluation
The Supreme Court collegium’s decision and the opposition to the move by the Union law ministry could trigger another face-off between the executive and the judiciary.india Updated: Oct 23, 2017 19:09 IST
The Union law ministry has objected to the Supreme Court collegium’s move to scrap the mechanism for evaluating judgements of additional judges of high courts while recommending their names for promotion as permanent judges.
The SC collegium is a body of the country’s top five judges headed by the Chief Justice of India that appoints judges. High court judges are appointed after their names are recommended by similar bodies in the country’s 24 high courts to the SC collegium.
Additional judges – appointed for an initial period of two years – were being evaluated for the judgments they delivered before being made permanent judges since 2010. On October 31, that year, then CJI Justice SH Kapadia had written to high court chief justices asking them to set up judgments evaluation committees in every HC.
The committees, comprising senior judges, assessed additional judges on the judgments they had delivered. In March this year, then CJI JS Khehar wrote to the HC chief justices saying the SC collegium had decided that the practice “needs to be discontinued”, sources said. The CJI’s letter was sent to the law ministry in April.
Last month, the ministry wrote back to the collegium asking it to “re-examine” its decision to scrap the lone parameter for evaluating additional judges before elevating them, sources said.
The communication to the Chief Justice of India was made during the tenure of the previous justice department secretary Snehlata Srivastava, who retired on September 30. When HT tried to contact her on Saturday, she texted a message saying she had already retired.
The government’s objection could spark off another controversy with the executive reacting to a move that lies in the domain of the judiciary. The ties between the executive and the judiciary have been under strain since the Supreme Court in October 2015 scrapped a new law for appointing a commission for judicial appointments and ending the current system of judges appointing judges.