SC efforts to fill HC vacancies continues in 2022

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SC efforts to fill HC vacancies continues in 2022

  • The Supreme Court Collegium led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana has continued into 2022 its marathon recommendations and reiterations to fill up vacancies in High Courts across the country.
  • The Collegium met on February 1 and finalised the names of lawyers and judicial officers for appointment as judges to seven different High Courts, including Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi.
  • The latest statistics published by the Law and Justice Ministry showed that the judicial vacancies in the 25 High Courts total 411.

Collegium system

  • The Indian Supreme Court created the Collegium of Judges.
  • It is not included in the Constitution, which states that the President appoints Supreme Court and High Court justices and mentions a consultation procedure.
  • In effect, it is a system in which judges are appointed by a judicial institution.
  • Following the introduction of the CJI in the 1970s, certain justices were superseded, and attempts were made to accomplish a wholesale movement of High Court judges around the country.
  • As a result, there was a sense that the judiciary's independence was in jeopardy. As a result, there have been a number of cases over the years.

Related landmark judgements

  • The First Judges Case (1981) established that in mattersof appointments, ""consultation"" with the CJI must be complete and effective.
  • However, it rejected the notion that the CJI's view, notwithstanding its importance, should take precedence.
  • The Collegium system was established in 1993 when the Second Judges Case held that ""consulting"" meant ""concurrence.""
  • It went on to say that it wasn't the CJI's personal judgement, but rather an institutional one made in collaboration with the Supreme Court's two most senior justices.
  • In the Third Judges Case (1998), the Supreme Court extended the Collegium to a five-member body, consisting of the CJI and four of his senior-most colleagues, in response to a Presidential Referral for its judgement.

Collegium’s role in transfers

  • It recommends the transfer of Chief Justices and other judges
  • A judge can be transferred from one High Court to another under Article 222 of the Constitution.
  • When a CJ is moved, a successor for the High Court concerned must be sought at the same time.
  • In a High Court, an acting CJ can serve for no longer than a month.
  • The decision of the CJI ""is determinative"" in issues of transfers, and the permission of the judge involved is not necessary.
  • The CJI, on the other hand, should consider the opinions of the Chief Justice of the High Court in question, as well as the views of one or more SC justices who are in a position to do so.
  • All transfers must be undertaken in the public interest, or ""to improve the administration of justice.""

Drawbacks of Collegium system

  • Opaqueness of the procedure of appointments and transfers
  • Practice of Nepotism
  • Embroilment in public controversies
  • Several talented junior judges and advocates are overlooked

Way forward

  • The independence, transparency, accountability, and integrity of institutions define democracy. Any system that prioritises nepotism above talent is doomed to fail, as seen by the judiciary, where cases are languishing, justice is denied, and nepotism has played a role.
  • An independent body for the entire process is essential so that the judiciary may operate independently rather than solely, or else future generations' trust in the judiciary would be harmed.