Parliamentary panel for government’s take on judicial appointments

The Economic Times, December 09, 2016

An all-party parliamentary panel headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma virtually rejected the judiciary’s clamour for primacy in the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary and called for ‘glasnost’ in the appointment process to make it a shared exercise with the executive. The committee also lent its weight to the government’s suggestion on most of the contentious issues over revising the appointment process for judges.

“The committee is of the opinion that appointment of judges of higher judiciary is essentially an executive function,” it said, while conceding that judicial appointments at best “are shared responsibility of the executive and the judiciary to be exercised jointly with neither organ of the state having a primacy over the other”. The committee suggested that the judicial orders giving primacy to the judiciary need to be reversed for which it has suggested that the “government may take appropriate measures”.

The committee, which on Thursday tabled its report in Parliament, called for more openness — glasnost, an expression used for opening up of an opaque Soviet Russia — of the collegium system for appointments. This parliamentary panel, in fact, appeared lending its support to the executive on most of the issues concerning the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) over which the Supreme Court collegium and the government are engaged in a tug of war. The committee backed the government’s suggestions for MoPrevision by recommending instituting a dedicated cell in the Registry of the Constitutional Courts for judicial appointments and called for “wider consultation amongst judges” beyond the collegium members to short-list candidates for consideration for appointment. It recommended that the “MoP must also contain eligibility criteria and procedure” for elevation of judges to the higher judiciary as well as advocated the collegium to provide the reasons for rejection of candidates to bring more openness.

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