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Supreme Court objects to Law minister Kiren Rijiju’s remarks on Collegium system of appointments

The top court observed that the Centre was holding back names recommended by the Collegium for appointment as judges without citing its reservations.

Supreme Court objects to Law minister Kiren Rijiju’s remarks on Collegium system of appointments
Law minister Kiren Rijiju. (Express File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday took strong exception to comments by Law minister Kiren Rijiju in a televised interview with a media channel. A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka, expressing reservations about the Centre sitting on files regarding the appointment of judges to higher courts, referred to “an interview” by “somebody high up” and asked Attorney General R Venkataramani to resolve the issue at the earliest.

“If we have to, we will take a decision,” Justice Kaul told the Attorney General, according to Bar&Bench. “Please resolve this and don’t make us take a judicial decision in this regard,” the court added. The remarks by the bench came in reference to an alleged delay by the Centre in clearing names for the appointment of judges without articulating its reasons.

While the bench refrained from naming anyone, the reference was apparently aimed at Law minister Kiren Rijiju’s statements during his appearance at the Times Now Summit where he made remarks critical of the Collegium system of appointing judges to higher courts.

Also Read: Collegium system for appointment of judges can be improved: Ex CJI Thakur

Speaking during the interaction, Rijiju referred to the Collegium system of appointments as “alien” and said the government was well within its right to carry out the process of due diligence.

“The Collegium system is alien to the Constitution. You tell me which provision of the Constitution provides for this system. But because the Supreme Court in its wisdom through a court ruling or a judgment created the Collegium which recommends names, government (will do) due diligence,” he said.

“…As long as this (Collegium) system is prevailing we will respect it. But if you expect that government should merely sign every recommendation, then what is the role of the government?” Rijiju asked, underlining that it is the government that has the apparatus to ascertain the background of a person and whether he or she is qualified for the judge’s job.

Taking strong exception to the comments, the Supreme Court today said that while the government can indeed convey its objections to the recommendations made by the Collegium, it cannot hold back names without citing its reservations, adding that there are names which have been pending for as long as 1.5 years.

“You are frustrating the method of appointment,” the court remarked, adding that timelines have been laid out, and need to be adhered to. “Most of the names recommended have crossed 4-month limit. (There is) no information to us,” the bench said today.

Also Read: SC collegium recommends appointment of new chief justices to three HCs, transfer of two CJs

The top court’s observations came while it was hearing a petition filed by the Advocates Association, Bengaluru stating that the Centre’s failure to process the names recommended for appointment was in direct contravention of the Second Judges case. The matter has now been posted for hearing on December 8.

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First published on: 28-11-2022 at 04:12:47 pm