New Delhi: Union Minister of Law & Justice Kiren Rijiju has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud stating that he is not satisfied with the Collegium system of appointing judges while backing the reintroduction of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) for choosing judges.
Commenced on December 31, 2014 the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), is a body which is responsible for the recruitment, appointment and transfer of the Judicial officers, legal officers and legal employees under the Government of India and in all the State Governments of India.
It was repealed on October 16, 2015, in the five-Judge bench which was ruled with a majority, that NJAC was ‘unconstitutional’ and violated the basic structure of the constitution.
Law Minister said, “It is just a follow-up action of the letters written earlier to CJI following the direction of the Supreme Court Constitution Bench while striking down the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act. The SC Constitution Bench had directed to restructure the MoP of the collegium system” while speaking on January 16.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission had been enacted in 2014 to replace the existing collegium system, but was struck down by the Apex Court in 2015 and the court called it ‘unconstitutional’
Earlier today, taking to the twitter post the Law Minister tweeted, “The contents in the letter to hon’ble CJI are exactly in conformity with the observations and directions of the Supreme Court Constitution Bench. Convenient politics is not advisable, especially in the name of Judiciary. Constitution of India is supreme and nobody is above it.”
Rijiju’s letter to the CJI pitched for the inclusion of government representatives in the Supreme Court.
As per the Union Government, this will infuse transparency and accountability to the public in the court’s decision-making process with respect to the appointment of judges.
The Supreme Court Constitution Bench had directed the restructuring of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) of the collegium system.
The MoP is a document that sets out the procedure for the appointment of judges to High Courts and the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice, under the present Collegium system of India, along with four senior-most Supreme Court judges recommend the appointments and transfers of judges.
Chief Justice Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, KM Joseph, MR Shah, Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna are among the current collegium of the Supreme Court.
Amidst Union Kiren Rijiju’s continued criticism of the collegium system, the Supreme Court on November 28 suggested that the Government is perhaps holding back some appointments because it is “not happy” that the top court struck down the NJAC.
Union Law & Justice Minister has repeatedly criticised the collegium system and even claimed that because of the system, judges were appointing those they knew and not necessarily those who merit appointment.
Recently in a fresh criticism against the judiciary, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar said that “Public posturing from judicial platforms is not good.”