The sharp differences between the government and the judiciary over a document to guide future appointment of judges to higher courts are unlikely to be settled during the tenure of Chief Justice of India J S Khehar who demits office next month. Sources in the government said that the Centre is unlikely to respond soon to the objections raised by the collegium on various clauses of the memorandum of procedure.
The final call on the objections raised by the collegium lies with the Prime Minister’s Office. The sources said the response is yet to be articulated to ensure that the document is finalised without fresh differences. They said the response may not come before Justice Khehar demits office on August 28. Since January last, the government and the apex court are trying to finalise the memorandum of procedure — a document to guide appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
While rejecting the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, the Supreme Court had agreed to revise the memorandum of procedure to usher in more transparency in appointment of judges to the apex court and the high courts. The new law had sought to overturn the over two decade old collegium system where judges appoint judges. It had sought say of the Executive in appointment of judges.
The national security and the secretariat clauses are part of the draft MoP which has been shuttling between the government and the collegium since March 22, 2016. In its latest response in March to the revised draft of the document, the collegium has made it clear that it will have the last say in cases where its recommendation for appointment of a judge is returned by the government on the grounds of national security and public interest.
The body of five senior-most judges of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India has made it clear that if the government has objections on the ground of national security and public interest, it will convey the same to the collegium. The collegium will then take a final call.