Reiterating the need to finalise the MoP, sources said, Rijiju has sought setting up of a “search-cum-evaluation” committee, as part of secretariats to be set up in the SC and each of the 25 high courts to screen advocates before their names are recommended for elevation as judges. In the latest communication, Rijiju has proposed that the screening committees, both for the Supreme Courts and high courts, should have representatives from the government.
The new MoP has been a work-in-progress for several years now, with the first draft sent to the CJI-led collegium on March 22, 2016, i.e. a few months after the December 2015 judgment of the Supreme Court Constitution bench. After striking down the NJAC, the Constitution bench had suggested the creation of a mechanism outside the collegium to ensure transparency in appointments by setting up a secretariat and a system to deal with complaints against judges.
Four different drafts on the MoP have since been exchanged between the government and the CJI‘s office. The government has stood by the last one it had prepared, rejecting the collegium’s objections to certain clauses in it.
The Centre had then emphasised the need to retain certain proposals in the MoP, such as wider consultations among all the judges of the SC bench in case of selections to the apex court, and all the judges of the HC concerned in case of appointments to that HCs. It had also asserted the right to turn down recommendations of the collegium on grounds of national security.
While agreeing to share the reasons for disqualification of the collegium’s choice on grounds of national security, the government said that the information so shared was for the exclusive use of the CJI and was not to be shared with other members of the collegium.