By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2023-01-16 07:04:05
Taking the fight against the process of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts to the next level, Law minister Kiren Rijiju has written to the Chief Justice of India, Justice D Y Chandrachud, to include the representatives of the Central government in the Supreme Court collegium and the representatives of the concerned state governments in the respective High Court collegiums. It is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will agree to this request and the dispute is likely to escalate in the coming weeks.
The process of appointing judges to the higher judiciary is under fire from the government side for long. After the Supreme Court held that the National Judicial Appointments Act (NJAC) was unconstitutional and the collegium system would continue and later ordered the Centre to follow strict timelines in clearing names forwarded by the collegium, the Centre has raised the issue of lack of transparency and public accountability in the collegium system to hit back at the process. It has also refused to follow the timeline and has sat upon or sent back several names in the recent past.
With the judiciary not willing to cede ground and taking exception to the interference of the government in matters of appointing judges and with the government equally determined to have a say in the selection of judges, this issue is likely to lead to an acrimonious tussle between the two and there seems to be no easy solution to the problem. A major part of the blame lies with the judiciary as it has refused (except for some months) to make the deliberations of the collegium public. This lack of transparency is not good for the judiciary.
But having government representatives on the collegiums is not the ideal solution. The government must build up political consensus by taking all political parties along, discuss the matter with the judiciary and introduce another bill on the lines of the NJAC to find a lasting solution.