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Neo-collegium order a damp squib: SC asks government to prepare collegium procedure [READ ORDER]

The Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench in the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case, presided by Justice JS Khehar, delivered the consequential order in reforming the Collegium system to recommend appointment of new Judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court, amidst high expectations at 10 30 AM. 

The brief order, however, proved to be a damp squib, with the bench expressing its complete agreement with the Attorney-General, Mukul Rohatgi that the Government alone can revise the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to appoint Judges, after consultations with the President and the Chief Justice of India.

The bench, however, laid down certain broad parameters which could govern the revision of MoP, by the government in consultation with the CJI and the five-member collegium, which includes the CJI and four senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court.

These parameters include the eligibility criteria, transparency, secretariat, redressal of complaints and miscellaneous. 

What disappointed most was that the bench did not go into the specifics of any of these parameters, but left it to the Government and the collegium to decide how to go about revising it.

Thus on the secretariat, the bench said there shall be a secretariat in the Supreme Court and in each high court. But specifics like who should be in charge of these secretariats, and what would be their duties and responsibilities were not specified.

On the eligibility criteria, apart from known factors like age, and qualification, performance-related criteria were not mentioned.

On transparency, the bench wanted the Government to reveal the minutes of the collegium meetings, including the dissents, on the website, but cautioned that it should be balanced against the requirement of confidentiality.  How the balance has to be struck was again left to the Government and the Collegium to decide.

There were no specific directions with regard to redressal of complaints, or the miscellaneous factors which may contribute to the Collegium’s functioning.

After Justice Khehar finished reading the brief order, there were quiet consultations among Justice Khehar,  Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice J Chelameswar, and Justice Kurian Joseph. 

With disappointment writ large among those who assembled in the Court No.3, the Judges rose to return to their chambers.

Read constitution bench order on future of collegium

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