House panel for transparency in process of judges appointments

House panel for transparency in process of judges appointments

  • Parliamentary standing committee on law and justice, which examined the delay in filling vacancies in the Supreme Court and High Courts, has called for transparency in the appointments process from both the judiciary and the government, while ensuring the independence of the former.
  • The committee also recommended the raising of the retirement age of Supreme Court judges to 67 years from the current limit of 65 and that of High Court judges to 65 from the present limit of 62 and the consideration of a fixed tenure for Chief Justices.
  • Committee was headed by deputy leader of the opposition, Anand Sharma.
  • At present, reasons for rejection of a particular candidate by the Supreme Court Collegium are not disclosed. The Committee feels that the candidate must be informed on the grounds of rejection.
  • Government too rejects the names recommended by the SC Collegium without furnishing cogent reasons therefore. Such practices are against the principles of natural justice and leads to opaqueness in appointment process, therefore Glasnost in process of appointment of judges is the need of the hour.
  • The committee asked that the government unambiguously define what it meant by the terms “national security” and “larger public interest” and the “circumstances/ antecedents which fall within their purview listed.”
  • It recommended that any case involving interpretation of the Constitution or a reference under Article 143 (referring to the powers of the President of India to consult the Supreme Court on a point of law) will now require a minimum of 11 judges of the Supreme Court to hear the cases.
  • Another recommendation was that cases involving the interpretation of the Constitution should not be heard by a Bench of less than seven judges.
  • Committee recommended the setting up of a dedicated cell in the Registry of the Constitutional Courts to not just keep computerised records of vacancies but also keep information about eligible candidates as judges of constitutional courts, along with expert views and opinion on their performance for streamlining the appointment process.

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