Taking its battle with higher judiciary one step forward, the government on Thursday approved granting constitutional status to a proposed commission for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary, thus knocking down the Supreme Court appointed collegium. The constitutional status would ensure that neither the apex court nor an ordinary legislation in the parliament or in any assembly would be able to alter or nullify the Commission or its composition.
A parliamentary standing committee here earlier recommended setting up of the Judicial Appointments Commission and had also recommended similar state level commissions to reduce burden of the apex level commission and provide for more road based appointment process.
The Bill pending in Rajya Sabha also entails creation of the All India Judicial Service as envisaged under Article 312 to attract best talent to the subordinate judiciary from where 33% are elevated to the Benches of the high courts. It said the existing reservation policy of the government must apply to this service also.
The Supreme Court had introduced the collegium system through a 1993 judgment in which the executive was reduced to a secondary position. Goa MP Shantaram Naik, who headed the parliamentary panel which recommended appointment of the Commission, said the collegium system had inherent deficiencies and problems of opacity and non-accountability.
He said the proposed commission would ensure equal and active participation of both executive and judiciary in collaborative and participatory manner to find the best and brightest persons with impeccable integrity to the Bench of the higher judiciary, the report said.
According to new arrangement, the Commission will have the Chief Justice of India as its chairperson, two Supreme Court judges, Union law minister and two eminent persons. Also it will have three eminent persons from SC/ST/OBC/Women/minority, preferably by rotation. Also, the high court judge in-charge of administration should invariably e from outside the state. The Commission should frame the regulations for appointment of transfer and appointment of the high court chief justices and judges to supersede the memorandum of procedure prepared by the department of justice.