New Delhi: The central government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that appointment of judges to the apex court and the high courts should be through consultative and participatory exercise and the entire procedure of appointment should be known to the public.
It told the constitution bench comprising Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel that not only the chief justices of the high courts but even the meritorious judges in the high courts too should be considered for elevation to the apex court.
Seeking that the detailed working of the each of these three steps be made public, the central government has noted that as far the existing practise, only the chief justice of the high courts are elevated to the apex court.
The government's stand came in the wake of apex court's November 3 order seeking suggestion for improving the working of the collegium and making it transparent and criteria based.
It had further sought suggestions whether the collegium should have a permanent secretariat and how and which kind of complaints trying to red flag an appointment should be entertained.
Favouring a consultative process, the central government has suggested setting up of a permanent secretariat of the collegium both in the apex court and in the high courts with a senior officer being its incharge with other required staff, saying a full-time secretariat was necessary for efficient appointments.
Besides collecting the background information about the members of the bar and district judges in line to be appointed as judges of the high courts, the secretariat, in the case of additional judges likely to be confirmed as permanent of high court or those to be elevated to the apex court, will collect details on the number of judgments delivered, land mark judgments, quality of judgments and other relevant factors.
On the complaints against prospective candidates, the central government has favoured a "strong need" that all the "anonymous and frivolous" complaints should be rejected "outright".
It further suggested that the proposed secretariat should entertain only those complaints which are supported with "material evidence" and the complaints which are "prima facie correct" should be "referred to the executive for investigation".
On the transfer of judges from one high court to another, it has suggested that the "transfer should be made only on account of administrative experiences, conflict of interest with relatives (of a judge sought to be transferred) practising at the bar or at the request of the concerned judge".
Every transfer should involve "mandatory" consultation with the chief justices of transferor and transferee high court" and transfer of a judge should not be based on complaint as complaint should attract disciplinary proceedings. The transfer order must be accompanied with a brief reason.
To put every proceedings of the collegium on the record, the central government has suggested that "all the procedures of the collegium must be recorded in writing and transferred to the national archives" for use by the scholars after 30 years.
Besides this, it has suggested publication of annual report on the appointment of judges that should be made public.