Supreme Court Disapproves Of Law Minister’s Remarks On Judges’ Appointment

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The Solicitor General, on behalf of the Centre, said that “sometimes media reports are wrong”.

New Delhi:
The Supreme Court today objected to recent remarks by Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on the collegium system of appointing judges, saying it should not have happened. It also flagged the issue of Centre delaying appointments in the higher judiciary.

Here’s your 10-point guide to this big story:

  1. “When someone in a high position says that…it should not have happened”, the Supreme Court said on Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s swipe at the system to appoint judges. Mr Rijiju, who barely hides his dissatisfaction with the government not having more say in appointing judges to the top court, had recently launched a fresh attack on the current appointment mechanism, saying the collegium system is “alien” to the Constitution. 

  2. The Supreme Court in its wisdom, through a court ruling, created the collegium, he had said, noting that before 1991 all judges were appointed by the government.

  3. Speaking at the Times Now Summit, the Law Minister had said the Constitution of India is a “religious document” for everyone, especially the government. “Anything which is alien to the Constitution merely because of the decision taken by the courts or some judges, how do you expect that the decision will be backed by the country,” he had asked.

  4. The Solicitor General, on behalf of the Centre, said that “sometimes media reports are wrong”. “Mr Attorney General, I have ignored all press reports, but this has come from somebody high enough also with an interview…I am not saying anything else. If we have to, we will take a decision,” Justice Kaul told Attorney General R Venkataramani, who was representing the Centre.

  5. On delays in appointments, the court asked if the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) not passing muster was the reason that the government is not happy, and is hence not clearing names.

  6. The Centre cannot hold the names back without stating its reservations, the Supreme Court said on the government sitting on recommendations from the collegium. It also warned the Centre of a judicial decision. “Please resolve this and don’t make us take a judicial decision in this regard,” the bench said.

  7. “The ground reality is…names are not being cleared. How will the system work? Some names are pending for the last one and half years,” the Supreme Court said.

  8. “It cannot be that you can withhold names, it frustrates the whole system…And sometimes when you appoint, you pick up some names from the list and not clear others. What you do is you effectively disrupt the seniority,” the court added.

  9. The Supreme Court further said that many recommendations are pending for four months, and have crossed the time limit. Timelines have to be adhered to, it said. The top court mentioned that one lawyer whose name was recommended has died, while another has withdrawn consent. 

  10. The court asked the Attorney General and Solicitor General to convey the sentiments of the court to the Centre over delay in clearing names for higher judiciary recommended by the Supreme Court collegium. The matter was adjourned for hearing on December 8 after the Attorney General and Solicitor General assured the court that they will look into the matter.

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