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Collegium Recommendations For Judicial Appointments : Supreme Court

Collegium Recommendations For Judicial Appointments:

The Supreme Court (SC) questioned the government about the delay in clearing Collegium recommendations for judicial appointments to various High Courts (HC).

Collegium System:

  • It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the SC, and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.

Evolution of the System:

First Judges Case (1981):

  • It declared that the “primacy” of the Chief Justice of India (CJI)s recommendation on judicial appointments and transfers can be refused for “cogent reasons.”
  • The ruling gave the Executive primacy over the Judiciary in judicial appointments for the next 12 years.

Second Judges Case (1993):

  • SC introduced the Collegium system, holding that “consultation” really meant “concurrence”.
  • It added that it was not the CJI’s individual opinion, but an institutional opinion formed in consultation with the two senior-most judges in the SC.

Third Judges Case (1998):

  • SC on President’s reference expanded the Collegium to a five-member body, comprising the CJI and four of his senior-most colleagues.

The SC collegium is headed by the CJI and comprises four other senior most judges of the court.

  • An HC collegium is led by its Chief Justice and four other senior-most judges of that court.
  • Names recommended for appointment by an HC collegium reaches the government only after approval by the CJI and the SC collegium.
  • Judges of the higher judiciary are appointed only through the collegium system and the government has a role only after names have been decided by the collegium.
  • The government’s role is limited to getting an inquiry conducted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) if a lawyer is to be elevated as a judge in a High Court or the Supreme Court.
  • Intelligence Bureau (IB): It is a reputed and established intelligence agency. It is authoritatively controlled by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It can also raise objections and seek clarifications regarding the collegium’s choices, but if the collegium reiterates the same names, the government is bound, under Constitution Bench judgments, to appoint them as judges.

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