Conflicts on Judicial appointments
#GS-02 Indian Judiciary
National Judicial Appointments Commission:
- NJAC was a constitutional body proposed to replace the present Collegium system of appointing judges.
- It was to be responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India.
- National Judicial Appointments Commission was created by the Ninety-Ninth Constitutional Amendment Act of 2014.
Composition of NJAC
- The Chief Justice of India
- 2 senior-most judges of the Supreme Court
- The Law Minister of India
- 2 eminent members that are chosen by the Selection Committee
The Cause of Conflict:
- The current conflict has two triggers.
- One is the government’s repeated public criticism of the Collegium system on the ground that it is “opaque”.
- The court has accused the government of not appointing persons who are not “palatable” to it.
- Another major concern of the government is the court’s decision to declare NJAC as unconstitutional in the Fourth Judges Case.
What can be done:
- The government can bring a new law on judicial appointments while taking the concerns of the court into account.
- The parliamentary standing committee on Law and Personnel in its report said both the judiciary and the government need to do some “out-of-the-box” thinking to deal with the “perennial” judicial vacancies in High Courts.
Vacancies in higher Judiciary:
- As on November 30, 2022, there are 332 judicial vacancies in the High Courts out of a total sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges.
- The High Courts have made 146 (44%) recommendations which are under consideration of the government and the Supreme Court.
- The High Courts are required to make recommendations for the remaining 186 vacancies (56%).
- Many High Courts have not made recommendations under the Bar and Service quotas for vacancies in the past one to five years.
- It said 43 High Court judges are scheduled to retire between December 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023, taking the vacancies up to 229.
- So far, no recommendations have been received.
- The delay in the appointment process has affected the timely filling up of vacancies in the High Courts. The Supreme Court itself has six vacancies.