Friday, 13 November 2015

Steps to improve the working of Collegium System

To
The Secretary
Department of Justice, Govt of India
New Delhi.

Suggestions to improve the working of Collegium System for appointing/elevating High Court and Supreme Court judges

Dear Sir,
Thank you for soliciting public opinion on this important issue. Appointment and elevation of judges of the higher judiciary is indeed the key to ensuring efficient and unbiased administration of justice for citizens of India.
My humble suggestions are as below:

Transparency
1)    Judges desirous of being selected, elevated or transferred should be required to formally apply to the collegium, clearly stating their own eligibility for such selection or elevation.
2)    Individual members of the collegium may propose or support eligible candidates for selection, elevation, transfer to a different High Court etc., but this should be done in writing to the chief of that collegium (Chief Justice) and their recommendations etc. must be placed on record.
3)    The chief of the collegium may also propose eligible candidates, but to prevent him from abusing his pre-eminent position, candidates proposed by him must be independently scrutinized by other collegium judges, and their opinions (whether favourable or adverse) must be placed on record.
4)    The proposed candidates should be shortlisted by the collegium secretariat based on independently verifiable factors such as rate of case-disposal, length of tenure in the present and previous positions, complaints, etc.
5)    The income and assets of High Court and Supreme Court judges and their close relatives should be regularly appraised by the Comptroller and Accountant General (CAG) to ensure that (a) true accounts are being rendered and (b) asset growth is within the bounds of official income sources. Judges about whom CAG raises red flags must not be considered eligible for any elevation until CAG’s questions are satisfactorily answered, and the investigation is complete.
6)    Judges about whom CAG raises red flags must be transferred at the earliest to another High Court in order to break any existing nexus, and to facilitate independent investigations, unhindered by the influential position of the judge.
7)    Judges found to be lobbying, engaging in backroom-politics and/or trading favours with influential persons (including senior counsels, judges, ministers, bureaucrats, party leaders, business magnates, etc.) for procuring preferential treatment from the collegium must be sent a stern warning letter by the chief of the collegium for the first offence, disqualified from applying to the collegium for three years in case of a second offence, and permanently debarred from elevations in case of a third offence.
8)    All elevations and selections must be made by an independently verifiable process, minimizing the scope for subjective elements of favouritism, nepotism, political appointments, etc.
9)    Any collegium judge who shows tendencies of over-ruling or short-circuiting the due process must be debarred from further participation in the collegium.
10) All meetings of the collegiums should be video-recorded with good audio quality. Decisions of the collegium must reflect scrupulous following of due-process and best practices.
11) All the above-mentioned documents and audio-recordings of the collegiums and candidates must be available to citizens from the Collegium Secretariat under Right To Information Act. Ideally, such documents should be routinely uploaded on the website of the respective High Court or Supreme Court, and available through a simple net-search.

Collegium Secretariat
1)    Collegium Secretariat should be a single centralized organization headquartered in New Delhi, with offices in every High Court. Secretariat in each state should be headed by a team of senior bureaucrats who are suitably insulated from pulls and pressures by judges, lawyers, ministers, etc. It must support the Collegium in its decision-making with all the background-data of candidates, as well as objective comparison and analysis of the data along various parameters.
2)    Secretariat must maintain eligibility records of each and every judge of the higher judiciary, as well as judges, senior advocates and others who apply for judgeship in the higher judiciary. It must independently scrutinize each and every candidate and his/her background, and maintain records of his progress. It must also give ratings to these candidates based on case-disposal rates, number of cases where their judgments have been reversed by higher forum on appeal, and other such parameters.
3)    Secretariat must be well-staffed, well equipped, well-funded and suitably empowered to maintain scrupulous records of the proceedings of the collegium, as well as eligibility of each and every judge in the system, as well as senior advocates etc. who have declared themselves desirous of being considered as candidates for judgeship.

Eligibility criteria
1)    Short-term elevations to the position of chief justice of various High Courts, just for the sake of rendering the candidate eligible for elevation to the Supreme Court, must be expressly forbidden.
2)    Suitable criteria must be proposed by the Supreme Court Collegium, made into an enactment after passing through the houses of Parliament, and scrupulously implemented by the Collegium Secretariat and Ministry of Justice. Making the criteria a law would serve as a way to prevent “moving goal-posts” for favouring some candidates.

Complaints
1)    Suitable rules and formats may be evolved for receiving complaints against individual judges, and integrating it into the eligibility criteria.
2)    Suitable laws may also be made to prevent frivolous complaints against judges by parties with vested interest, but also to facilitate the independent investigation of complaints if found to have substance.

Sir, I trust these suggestions and recommendations will be considered and acted upon with due seriousness, to make the Collegium system conducive to the administration of justice for all citizens of India. If necessary, I will be available to depose before a parliamentary committee of the rationale behind these suggestions.

Yours sincerely,


Krishna H Rao

11 comments:

  1. very well formulated, Let's see how many of them are actually considered.

    ReplyDelete
  2. we common people want only to reduce adjournments and mindless stays it will automatically reduce the cases.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sub—My humble Suggestions for writ petition (C) no. 13 of 2015 inviting suggestions from public upto 5pm dt 13-11-2015
    Respected Sir,
    For improvement in Collegium system , I have been submitting my humble suggestions for your kind consideration

    (1) Eligibility---7.3.a, 7.4.a of draft suggestion----- Rather than seniority , Quality-disposal Index be the criteria for selection in the same manner as in global bid based on
    QCBS (Quality and cost based selection) giving weightage of 70-80% to quality and 20-30% to cost (here –disposed cases).
    Quality may include online written exam for legal proficiency test for ensuring sufficient fluency with fundamentals of law needed for fast disposal of cases MINUS (abuse of power in granting undue exparte stay orders indefinitely to criminals ; undue acceptance of PILs without any basis like CW---------- based on merely two very poorly drafted RTI applications of 2nd year law students without any detailed homework without waiting their reply for impossible objective etc. )
    (2) Secretariate—8.3, 8.8-- in draft suggestions , Quality-Disposal Index as explained above should result in accumulation to a score which represent merit by giving 70-80% weightage to quality and 20-30 % to disposal of cases. There are several judges of highcourt not having handled more than 20 cases in one decade before elevation as per Highcourt database online.
    (3) Complaints—9(h) –Chief Justices M.N.Venkatchaliah and J.S. Verma suggested “national oversight committee for receiving complaints. ------------- There is a need to make specific oversight committee to invite complaints like
    (a) oversight committee for examining appearance of partners/juniors of sitting judges in their courts ,
    (b) oversight committee for examining per incuriam decisions preceding over constitutional bench decisions of supreme court like Anil kumar vs MK Ayippa given more weightage over constitutional bench decision of Lalita Kumari vs state of U.P. resulting in closure of ACB courts in india.
    (c) Oversight committee to examine undue exparte stay orders granted to criminals and then deliberately delisting the hearing dates like CRLMP----- which granted stay order after one month of termination of public servant and much publisized in newspaper before granting stay order.

    Yours Sincerely

    Manoj K. Kamra
    manojkamrarti@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. There would have been one more point, that is NO reservation system for the appointment of judges on the basis of Cast, Religion, Gender & appointment should be done on the basis of merit only.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, Mr. Krishnaraj for covering most of the points,I have shared it in Facebook.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The systematic encroachment with stay final order of State Government through and now establishes third party RIGHT in the capital property of society by Illegal Establishment of a shell company titled as ‘DADAR BHAJIPALA VYAPARI MITRA MANDLE’ to certify people from General category to Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) as Agent/functionary to allow/ recommendation to get membership in the ‘Shri Ganesh (A) Co-Operative Housing Society’ Plot No. 01,Sector 28, Nerul (W), Navi Mumbai - 400706, for undisclosed cash PRIMIUM. It seems as ; Motto behind 20 year long litigation may be to earn mega cash PRIMIUM from redevelopment , literally by denied shareholders right to realize fair market value of their shares and indirectly forcing us to opt for redeem/sell shares thus making the society plot fully owned by the MC/promoters . without the consent of majority Shareholders by so called MC, in such a Scenario share holders are denied their full benefits including Possession of redeveloped flats as they shall have to retain illiquid shares and carry on being members of society or opt for exit option.

    ReplyDelete