Law Commission: Restore Executive Power In Appointing Judges

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New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) In a bid to end 'controversy' in appointing higher judiciary, the Law Commission of India today recommended reconsidering the 15-year-old collegium system or restoring in the process the primacy of the Chief Justice of India and the power of the executive.

The recommendation came in a Law Commission Report to the government after a study it carried out ''suo motu''. It was forwarded by Commission Chairman A R Lakshmanan to Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj.

''The Commission has recommended two alternatives,'' a Ministry statement noted, ''seeking a reconsideration'' of three judgements that effected the collegium system around 1993, or passing a law ''restoring'' the primacy of the CJI and the executive power to appoint Supreme Court and High Court judges.

Justice Lakshmanan is a former Supreme Court Judge, The three judgements which resulted in turning over the task of appointing judges in 1993 to a Collegium of judges are commonly known as Judges cases I, II and III.

It was essentially after the II judgement in Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v UOI (1993) that the Collegium system came into being.

A nine-judge Apex Court Bench by majority overruled an earlier judgement ''which had eroded the primacy'' of the CJI in such appointments.

Five years later, on a Special Reference, the Supreme Court strongly reinforced the concept of 'primacy' of the CJI's opinion and increased the number of judges the CJI must consult before providing his opinion.

It laid down a detailed set of guidelines on the procedure which in effect transferred the 'primacy' from the CJI to the group of Judges to be consulted.

''Since then controversy against the said collegium system is going on,'' the Ministry said.

It said the Law Commission examined the law and recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committees as well as laws in the United States, Australia, Canada and Kenya where the executive appoints Judges by itself or in consultation with the Chief Justice.

The Commission argued that the Judges constituting the collegium are not conversant with the names and antecedents of the candidates and more often than not, appointments suffer from lack of adequate information.

The Commission findings came as the Indian government and the Collegium appeared to be in a momentary tug of war over elevation of three Judges to the Supreme Court.

The government request to reconsider the choices which overlooked the claims of other candidates failed to move the collegium.

UNI MJ LS RK2107

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