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PRESIDENT APPOINTS N.V. RAMANA AS CJI

Context:

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Justice N.V. Ramana as Chief Justice of India with effect from April 24.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Judiciary, Appointment of Supreme Court Judges and CJI)

Dimensions of the Article:

Qualifications for Appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court

Appointment of Judge of the Supreme Court

Controversy over Consultation and Evolution of Collegium system

Working of Collegium System and NJAC

Qualifications for Appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court

  1. Be a citizen of India, and
  2. Have been the judge of a high court for a period of 5 years, or
  3. Have been an advocate of the High Court for at least 10 Years, or
  4. Be in the view of the President “a distinct Jurist of the country”.

Thus, there is nothing which can prevent the direct appointment of the Judges of the Supreme Court from the Bar, yet. So far, the appointments have been made from the Judges of High Courts only.

In the recent appointment of Justice N.V. Ramana as Chief Justice of India, both the Supreme Court and the government have followed the seniority norm in the appointment of CJIs.

Appointment of Judge of the Supreme Court

  • Every Judge of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President after consultation with the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts in states, the President may deem necessary for the purpose.
  • President if thinks necessary, can consult the Judges of the High Courts of States to appoint a Supreme Court Judge, as per Article 124. However, in the appointment of the other judges, the President shall always seek consultation from the Chief Justice of India.
  • Till 1993, the Judges of the Supreme Court were appointed by the President on the recommendation of the CJI.
  • When the CJI is absent any other Judge of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President as Acting Chief justice as per the provisions of Article 126.

Controversy over Consultation and Evolution of Collegium system

  • In the First Judges case (1982), the Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies an exchange of views.
  • In the Second Judges case (1993), the Court reversed its earlier ruling and changed the meaning of the word consultation to concurrence.

Third Judges Case, 1998:

  • In the Third Judges case (1998), the Court opined that the consultation process to be adopted by the Chief Justice of India requires “consultation of a plurality of judges”.
  • The sole opinion of the CJI does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a collegium of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and even if two judges give an adverse opinion, he should not send the recommendation to the government.
  • The court held that the recommendation made by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) without complying with the norms and requirements of the consultation process is not binding on the government.
  • The Collegium system was born through the “Third Judges case” and it is in practice since 1998. It is used for appointments and transfers of judges in High courts and Supreme Courts.
  • There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.

Working of Collegium System and NJAC

  • The collegium recommends the names of lawyers or judges to the Central Government. Similarly, the Central Government also sends some of its proposed names to the Collegium.
  • Collegium considers the names or suggestions made by the Central Government and resends the file to the government for final approval.
  • If the Collegium resends the same name again then the government has to give its assent to the names. But the time limit is not fixed to reply. This is the reason that appointment of judges takes a long time.
  • Through the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 the National Judicial Commission Act (NJAC) was established to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges.
  • However, the Supreme Court upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional on the grounds that the involvement of Political Executive in judicial appointment was against the “Principles of Basic Structure”. i.e., the “Independence of Judiciary”.

-Source: The Hindu

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October 2022
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