Steps needed to improve Collegium system, says Supreme Court

Urgent measures are required to improve the collegium system of appointment of judges, including the setting up of an independent secretariat, the Supreme Court highlighted in a judgment on 28 March 2018.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and Rohinton F. Nariman said the improvements contemplated by the five-judge NJAC Bench, in December 2015, in the collegium system had not “seen the light of the day.” The court ordered that the Centre should ensure that the new Memorandum of Procedure brings about the improvements recommended by the NJAC Bench.

The judgment points out how High Court Chief Justices are appointed for a few days before they retire, serving no purpose to the cause of justice delivery. The court stressed the need for a “full-time”and independent body of experts to help in the appointment process.

The apex court highlighted how various High Courts remained without permanent Chief Justices. The Law Ministry website shows that seven High Courts have been making do with Acting Chief Justices for months on end. Justice Goel, who authored the verdict, said Acting Chief Justices were meant only as a temporary measurebefore a permanent Chief Justice is appointed.

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