Centre accepts collegium's demand to remove cap on appointment of lawyers as Supreme Court judges
The government has acceded to some demands of the collegium including removing the cap on the number of jurists and lawyers who can be appointed to the Supreme Court as judges.
Sources in the government said that in the revised draft of the memorandum of procedure (MoP) — a document which guides the appointment of judges to the apex court and the 24 high courts — the government has acceded to the demand that there should be no limit on the number of lawyers and jurists to be appointed as judges.
However, Centre has hardened its stand on certain key clauses of a document which guides the process of appointments to the higher judiciary.
In the draft MoP sent to Chief Justice of India T S Thakur in March, the government had referred to the issue of appointment of lawyers and jurists as judges of the SC.
The March draft had said that “up to three” judges in the Supreme Court should to be appointed from among the eminent members of the Bar and distinguished jurists with proven track record in their respective fields.
The collegium had felt that the cap should be removed and the government has agreed to the proposition.
As the government and the judiciary are trying to finalise the MoP, the Supreme Court had on Friday observed that the justice delivery system is “collapsing” and sent out a stern message to the Centre over non-execution of the Collegium’s decision to transfer and appoint chief justices and judges in high courts, saying it will not tolerate the “logjam” and intervene to make it accountable.
A bench headed by Justice Thakur said, “We won’t tolerate logjam in judges’ appointment which is stifling its judicial work. We will fasten accountability”.
In the August 3 letter to the CJI, cleared at the highest level, the government has also agreed to seniority being be the main criteria for elevation. In the earlier draft, the government had insisted on merit-cum-seniority.
In the revised draft, the government has, however, reiterated that it should have the power to reject any name recommended by the Collegium on grounds of “national security” and “public interest”.
In May, the Collegium had unanimously rejected the clause saying it amounted to interference in the functioning of the judiciary.
While in the March draft, the government had refused to grant authority to the Collegium to send the same name again after it had been rejected, the new one says the government will inform the collegium about the reasons for rejecting its recommendation.