Urgent Need For SC Judges

  • Justice Chalameswar Stays Away From Collegium

New Delhi: Justice Chalameswar continues to say away from the collegiums meetings, it is learnt from the Supreme Court sources.  He refused to attend the meetings of the collegium even after receiving a letter from Chief Justice TS Thakur requesting him to do so. Justice Chalameswar had refused to sit with the other four senior most judges including the CJI. It has been the practice in the last two decades for all the members of collegium to sit and decide appointment of judges unanimously. He had taken objection to lack of transparency and questioned the procedure being followed by the body which has to select judges for Supreme Court and high courts. The collegium has powers to transfer the judges.

Justice Chalameswar revolted against what he described as ‘opaque’ procedure where the majority of the members ‘gangs up’ to shoot down genuine objections with respect to unsuitable candidates. The other members of the collegium, beside Justice Thakur and Justice Chalameswar, are Justice AR Dave, Justice JS Khehar and Justice Dipak Mishra.

Justice Dave and Justice SK Singh are scheduled to retire in November taking the number of vacancies of judges in the SC to seven. There is, therefore, an urgent need to fill the vacancies by considering the names available for promotion. Chief Justice Thakur himself is slated to retire on 3 January 2017. Six names have been circulated among the collegium members. The six names are: Bombay HC Chief Justice Manjula Chellur, Punjab & Haryana HC Chief Justice Deepak Gupta, Rajasthan HC Chief Justice Navin Sinha, Gujarat HC Chief Justice Subhash Reddy, J&K HC Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Uttarakhand SC Chief Justice KM Joseph. Justice Chalameswar has sent his views on the candidates in writing and the other members are yet to sit to decide the recommendations. The justices whose names figured in the list are juniors to some of the chief justices of high courts. In order to appear to be transparent and fair, the names of the other chief justices also have to be considered. It is to be ensured that seniority and merit have to be taken into consideration while selecting the judges of the Supreme Court. This view is heard predominantly in the judiciary.

There is another important task before Chief Justice Thakur to be fulfilled before his retirement early next year. He and his colleagues have to sit and finalize the Memorandum of Procudure (MoP) to be followed in the appointment of judges. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Kehar told the Centre in December last year to finalize the MoP in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. The constitution bench said the CJI would, on getting the report from the Centre, convey the unanimous opinion of the collegium. The Centre had sent a changed draft of the MoP to the CJI on 7 August 2016. The Central government is yet to receive response. The question being asked in the circle of judges and advocates is, ‘Can the collegium go ahead with the appointment of judges without finalizing the MoP? That would be going against the judgment of the constitution bench. That is why there is need for an unanimous view among the members of the collegiums on MoP. Only after the MoP is finalized, the selection of the judges can be taken up.

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