Fresh standoff between Centre, Supreme Court over collegium system of appointing judges

The government is believed to be upset after its bid to replace the collegium system was thwarted by the Supreme Court recently.

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2015, 12:00 PM IST
Fresh standoff between Centre, Supreme Court over collegium system of appointing judges

New Delhi: A standoff is brewing between the Centre and the Supreme Court.

The Central government on Thursday refused to formulate a draft memorandum of procedure (MoP) to be followed by the Supreme Court collegium for appointments of judges to the higher judiciary.

The development came just a day after the apex court had asked the Centre to frame the draft MoP for future appointments in higher judiciary after considering all suggestions on the issue.

Also Read: Supreme Court seeks public opinion on collegium system of appointing judges

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, on behalf of the Centre, told the Supreme Court today that it is not possible to give draft MoP for vetting by by judiciary.

Rohtagi, instead, asked the court to pass directions on the issue.

The government is believed to be upset after its bid to replace the collegium system was thwarted by the Supreme Court recently.

During the hearing yesterday, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam had opposed the apex court's direction to the Centre arguing "suggestions are welcome" but the executive cannot be allowed to draft even the draft memorandum.

He referred to the judgement, striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and 99th constitutional amendment, and said the prime reason for his objection was the endeavour to protect judicial independence and hence, the executive cannot be allowed now to have a role.

“You (Subramaniam) are jumping the gun. They are not going to issue MoP. Everybody is seeking transparency and there are no sides. The government also intends to make it transparent and broad-based. We are just taking their inputs as it is a very important stakeholder.”

"We may or may not accept their suggestions. We have struck down their NJAC. You think we can't flick out a mere clause in their draft MoP. Nobody can interfere in the process. You are just assuming that this is fait accompli,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar had said.

While striking down the NJAC Act, the apex court had - in an unprecedented move - invited suggestions from all those who desired to improve the "collegium system" of judicial appointments.

(With PTI inputs)