Justice Chalameswar skips collegium meet

  • Questions over lack of transparency

New Delhi: Judges appointments, are likely to be delayed after a senior judge refused to attend Supreme Court collegium meetings questioning the lack of transparency. This is a rare happening, that can hit the top court.

Justice-Chelameswar

Justice J Chelameswar

Justice J Chelameswar in a three-page letter, urged Chief Justice of India TS Thakur to make the judges’ appointment process transparent, reports said. Reasons for rejecting or recommending  should be put on record, the letter said.

The letter was sent hours before the collegium was scheduled to meet to discuss the revised MoP. The judge skipped the meeting, which proceeded in his absence. However, no decision was taken on the MoP.

Under the present collegium system the CJI and other senior SC justices appoint judges to the supreme court as well as the high court. It is also responsible for transferring high court judges.

The judge, who objected to some recent transfers, expressed his unwillingness to attend the meetings as no record of the discussion in collegium was maintained. It is learnt that he also suggested the collegium’s agenda should be circulated to members. He rejected the CJI’s request to take back the letter, reports said.

Earlier, in October last he dissented the struck down of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), which gave some say to the executive in judges’ appointment. However, he signed the unanimous order requiring the government to make changes in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) in consultation with collegium laying down fresh guidelines for judges’ appointments.

This is the first time that a senior judge of the Supreme Court has decided to keep away from collegium meetings, demanding transparency in appointment and transfer of judges.

The letter comes at a time when the government and judiciary are at loggerheads over the new MoP. CJI Thakur has publicly found fault with the government for not clearing fresh appointments and transfers, and warned that the court might pass judicial orders if things didn’t move fast.

Justice Chelameswar’s letter will give necessary support to the government to question the judiciary for resisting transparency.

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