Veto By Silence

Veto By Silence

Veto By Silence


In recalling its recommendation to appoint Justice S. Muralidhar as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, the Supreme Court collegium has let the Union government, which did not act on the decision for eight months, have its way. 

Points to Ponder:

  • Due to the Union government’s willful procrastination on the subject for eight months, the Supreme Court collegium has withdrawn its proposal to appoint Justice S. Muralidhar as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.
  • Instead, the Collegium suggested Justice S.V. Gangapurwala as the Madras High Court’s next Chief Justice.
  • The Collegium looks to be eager to have a permanent Chief Justice for the High Court, as the senior-most judge has been acting as Chief Justice for nearly eight months.
  • The article expresses worry about the government’s habit of delaying nominations and transfers by simply failing to act on the Collegium’s recommendations, which weakens the judiciary’s independence.
  • According to the report, such acts by the government could result in the government having the ability to veto any appointment or transfer proposed by the Collegium, thus eroding the judiciary’s independence.
  • According to the article, there have been recent instances of the administration emphasising prospective nominees’ political beliefs to delay their elevation to the Bench.
  • Regardless of the problems in the Collegium system, the current state of affairs bodes ill for the judiciary’s independence, which is based on the notion of judicial primacy.
  • The article concludes by emphasising that the executive’s ability to avoid the Collegium’s recommendations simply by not acting on them is a major concern, as it undermines the legal position that the recommendations are binding on the government if the Collegium reiterates its position on any appointment.

Collegium system

  • The appointment of judges is critical to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
  • Judges are normally appointed by the head of state with the advice of senior judges.
  • A sequence of judicial rulings in India established the collegium system for judicial nominations.
  • The collegium system consists of a committee of senior judges led by the Chief Justice of India who makes Supreme Court and High Court appointments.
  • The Collegium system has been chastised for its lack of openness and accountability, as well as for resulting in selections made on seniority rather than merit.
  • There have been requests for the Collegium system to be reformed to create a more independent and transparent method for judicial nominations.
  • Judicial appointment mechanisms must be transparent, responsible, and merit-based to retain public trust in the judiciary.

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