DMPQ: Independence, impartiality and fearlessness of judges are not private rights of judges but citizen’s rights. Ultimately judicial legitimacy/ power rests on people’s confidence in courts. In this context discuss the concerns with the collegium system. (POLITY)

The process for the appointment of judges lies at the heart of an independent judiciary.

  • The Second Judges’ case of 1993 led to the formation of a collegium of high-ranking judges which has since then identifying persons for appointment to the SC and high courts.
  • While the collegium began with a desire for judicial independence, the recent collegium appointments show that it is not transparent.
  • The lack of a written manual for functioning, the absence of selection criteria, the arbitrary reversal of decisions already taken and the selective publication of records of meetings shows that the Collegium is getting opaque.
  • Also, the higher judiciary has exempted itself from the Right to Information Act.
  • The appointment of judges is a serious issue.  This seriously undermines the independence of judges and raises unnecessary doubts about the credibility of the highest court as the government is not only the biggest litigator but also the greatest threat to the abuse of power.
  • Thus, India needs to restore the credibility of the higher judiciary by making the process of the appointing judges transparent and the collegium must also open its proceedings to the public.

 

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