Syllabus– General Studies 2(polity)
- For the first time ever, the Supreme Court Collegium led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) recommended/selected as many as nine persons at one go to be appointed to the apex court.
- The selection of judges for appointment to the higher courts, particularly the top court is a complex exercise.
- After the Collegium came into existence, much to the consternation of political class, the selection of suitable judges has become most arduous in as much as the members of the Collegium have to take extra care to ensure that the process of selection remains transparent and the suitability of the persons selected attracts the highest level of approbation.
- Article 142 (1) contains the concept of ‘complete justice’ in any cause or matter which the Supreme Court is enjoined to deliver upon.
- The citizens of the country look up to the Supreme Court for complete justice. So, while selecting a judge to adorn the Bench, the fundamental consideration should be his/her ability to do complete justice.
- The Supreme Court has gone into this fundamental normative matrix in which the whole exercise of selection of judges is performed.
- In the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Another vs Union of India (1993), the Court spelt out the parameters within which to accomplish the task of selecting candidates for appointment to the higher judiciary.
- The most crucial consideration is the merit of the candidates. The merit is the ability of the judge to deliver complete justice.
Transparency in Judicial appointments
- India is perhaps the only country where the judges select judges to the higher judiciary. It is, therefore, necessary to make the norms of selection transparent.
- The Supreme Court has emphasised the need for maintaining transparency and an openness with regard to the norms of selection.
- In 2019, a five judge Bench of the Supreme Court, of which the present CJI was also a member, laid emphasis on this point.
- Thus, the essence of the norms to be followed in judicial appointments is a judicious blend of merit, seniority, interests of the marginalised and deprived sections of society, women, religions, regions and communities.
- The recent selection of three women judges, with one of them having a chance to head the top court, a judge belonging to the Scheduled Caste and one from a backward community and the nine selected persons belonging to nine different States (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat), all point towards an enlightened and unbiased approach of the members of the Collegium.
- It is also a matter of public knowledge that many of those selected have zealously upheld citizens’ freedoms and public interest.
- The contributions of a few of them in waking up governments from their slumber in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is well documented. A high level of social consciousness possessed by a Judge enhances the quality of justice.
The Hindu link- https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/breaking-the-logjam-handing-over-the-baton/article36049637.ece
Question- Rather than a complete overhaul, collegium system can be tweaked to ensure transparency in judicial appointments. Comment.