DNA Exclusive | Judges' evaluation: SC move opposed by govt

Centre spars with apex court over appointments

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DNA Exclusive | Judges' evaluation: SC move opposed by govt


Setting the stage for a possible confrontation with the higher judiciary, the Modi government has objected to the decision of the Supreme Court collegium to quietly scrap the system to evaluate the performance of additional judges of high courts.

Sources in the higher judiciary told DNA that the Union Ministry of Law and Justice has taken strong exception to the new practice of SC collegium recommending names of additional judges of various high courts for confirmation as permanent judges without making an objective assessment of the judiciary work of the judge.

The government is learnt to have told the SC collegium, through the Chief Justice of India, that since the guideline that made it mandatory for a Judgments Evaluation Committee to evaluate the performance of an additional judge before recommending his/her name for appointment as permanent judge was the only "parameter" to examine the performance of the judge, it did not agree with the decision to scrap it.

The government, sources said, has asked the SC to have a re-look at recommendations with regard to some high courts – appointment of additional judges as permanent judges – in line with the earlier system.

In a letter dated March 29, then Chief Justice of India J S Khehar had informed all high court chief justices that the SC collegium had, at its meeting on March 3, decided to dump the system.

"The collegium comprising myself and four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court in its meeting held on 3rd March, 2017 has resolved that assessment/evaluation of judgements of Additional Judges of High Court for purpose of determining their suitability for confirmation as Permanent Judges runs contrary to Para 41 of the Judgment of the Supreme Court in SP Gupta case (1981 Supp. SCC 87) and, therefore, the practice of Judges' Committee by the chief justices of the high courts for the said purpose needs to be discontinued," the letter sent by Khehar, the former CJI, stated.

His letter informed the chief justices that the guideline may be treated as "withdrawn with immediate effect".

The CJI had also written to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on April 16, appending the copy of his letter to the high court chief justices.

In his letter, Justice Khehar had also requested the Law Minister to consider the possibility of issuing "necessary instructions to the concerned department to take note of the contents" of his communication to the chief justices while "processing the proposals for appointment of Additional Judges of the high court as Permanent Judges".

As first reported by DNA, the guidelines, including the one that has now been withdrawn, were issued by the then CJI S H Kapadia, who, on October 30, 2010, sent a letter in this regard to the high court chief justices.

Apart from evaluating the performance of Additional Judges for making them Permanent, the Judgments Evaluation Committee, which is constituted by the high court chief justice and comprises judges of the same court who aren't members of the collegium, also accesses the performance of senior judicial officers for being recommended for elevation to the high court.

Meanwhile, the government has also started "detailed scrutiny" of professional record of advocates and judicial officers recommended by high court collegiums for appointment as high court judges. The Ministry of Law and Justice recently informed the Cabinet Secretariat that "now the process of detailed scrutiny of proposals received for appointment of judges from high courts has been initiated. In the case of advocates, their reported judgements (in cases they represented), and in case of judicial officers their case disposal time and number of adjournments are being evaluated by an in-house team having legal background."


  • Judgments Evaluation Committee only ‘parameter’ to assess judges, govt says
  • Asks apex court to have a re-look before scrapping the system
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