Supreme Court yet to respond on guidelines for judges’ appointment: Law Minister

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju. File
| Photo Credit: R.V. MOORTHY

The government has written to the Chief Justice of India and has emphasised on the need to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The MoP is a set of documents that guide the appointment and transfer of Supreme Court and High Court judges.

“The issue is still under consideration of the Supreme Court. In view of various judicial pronouncements and suggestions by the Supreme Court, the government in its recent communication dated 06.01.2023 to the Chief Justice of India, has emphasised on the need to finalise the MoP. The response is yet to be received from the Supreme Court,” Mr. Rijiju said in response to a question from Congress member K. Muraleedharan on whether the MoP has been finalised.

In another written responses to a question posed by Sougata Ray (Trinamool Congress) and Deepak Baij (Congress) on the need to reform the collegium system, the Law Minister said the government suggested to the Supreme Court a Search-cum-Evaluation Committee for the appointment of Supreme Court judges and Chief Justices of High Courts.

This committee, said Mr. Rijiju, should have a representative who was nominated by the Government of India.

On the issue of reforming the collegium system, Mr. Rijiju noted that for the appointment of judges in the High Courts, the committee should consist of a representative each nominated by the Centre and the respective State governments.

“The existing MoP stipulates that if the Chief Minister desires to recommend the name of any person, he/she should forward the same for consideration. However, since this has not been put in actual practice, the names recommended by the Chief Minister can also be received by the Search-cum-Evaluation Committee along with the names taken from senior judges outside the collegium and eligible candidates taken from the database [Judicial Officers and advocates] as maintained by the proposed secretariat,” the Minister said.

The committee will be entrusted with the task of preparing a panel of eligible candidates from which the respective collegiums will make the recommendations. In a written response to a similar question in the Rajya sabha on Thursday, the Minister had said, “This, along with other measures suggested, will pave the way for a more transparent, accountable and expeditious mechanism for appointment of judges to the constitutional courts [the Supreme Court and the 25 High Courts]”.

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