Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ruling "clique" in Supreme Court decides appointment in Higher Judiciary

A tiny “ruling clique” of Supreme Court judges, led by the Chief Justice of India, currently decides which judge is to be elevated to High Courts and Supreme Court, or made Chief Justice of High Courts or Supreme Court. In making these appointments, this clique is guided by career aspirations of, and friendships with, individual judges rather than what is good for the judiciary as a whole. As a result, Chief Justices of high courts are quite often appointed for a couple of months, before being elevated further.
This ruling clique is called the “collegium”. There is no mention of the collegium in the Constitution of India. The collegium system, which has been in use since 1993, relies on two of its own judgments, and one opinion, collectively known as the Three Judges Cases. The court evolved the principle of judicial independence to mean that no other branch of the state -- including the legislature and the executive -- would have any say in the appointment of judges.
In July 2013, soon after his appointment, Chief Justice P Sathasivam spoke against any attempts to change the collegium system.
And only last week, the newly appointed Chief Justice of India R M Lodha said that the judges' selection process needed to be improved, but argued the existing collegium system needed to stay. This flies in the face of the Judicial Accountability Bill 2013, which seeks to set up a more broad-based Judicial Appointments Commission.
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