The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought suggestions for making the working of the collegium for appointment of judges to higher judiciary more transparent and criteria based. The apex court clarified that “there can’t be wholesale change in the collegium system and the changes cannot go beyond the parameters already spelt out in its 1998 judgment”.
While seeking suggestions, a Constitution bench comprising justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, J. Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel identified the areas as ensuring transparency in the appointment system, fixing a set of eligibility criteria for becoming a judge, setting up a full-time office of the collegium called “the secretariat” and devising a mechanism to deal with complaints against candidates for judgeship.
It asked senior counsel Arvind Dattar and additional solicitor general Pinki Anand to collate the suggestions including those on which there is commonality of views. After collating various suggestions, Dattar and Anand would submit their report to the apex court, which would hear the matter on Thursday. Justice Khehar also said there will be no “wholesale change” in the process and changes have to be within the broad framework of the current system.
The judges also agreed to the suggestion that there is a need to avoid regional imbalance in the higher judiciary and judges from smaller high courts such as those in North East should have fair chance to reach the Supreme Court.
They also agreed to hear suggestions on ensuring adequate representation of women among judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court.
Asking both the sides — the government and the counsel for the petitioners who had opposed NJAC — to work in tandem, Justice Khehar said both the sides should also look into the suggestions sent by eminent people including former judges, senior counsels and activists.