Centre to do away with collegium, says Sibal

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 Asserting that the Union government must have a say in the appointment of judges, Law Minister Kapil Sibal has said that a proposal to replace the 20-year-old collegium system to choose judges will be moved “very soon” before the Cabinet.

Once cleared, the new system in the form of a Judicial Appointment Commission will pave the way for the Executive to have a say in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts.

The collegium system of appointing judges has not worked to the expectations and the government must have a say in such appointments, according to Mr. Sibal. “We do not think that the collegium system has worked to our expectations. I don’t think it even worked to the expectations of the judiciary,” he told PTI in an interview while justifying the need for scrapping the system.

Mr. Sibal, who took charge of the Law Ministry last month, said the objective of the government and the judiciary was to have the best people chosen as judges with complete transparency and objectivity, and there must be broad-based consultations.

“Enormous stake”

“Just as judges have enormous stake in the appointment of judicial officers in the higher judiciary [Supreme Court and the 24 High Courts], the government has an equal stake. Since both of us have stakes in the appointment of members of the higher judiciary, the consultation of both of them is absolutely necessary. The government must have a say,” he emphasised.

Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir recently strongly defended the collegium system, saying appointments to the higher judiciary “are made after intense deliberations.”

About the judiciary’s objections to changing the system, the Minister said: “We know the views [of the judiciary]. We will take that into account.” Laws must be acceptable by and large to the stakeholders who include the judiciary, the executive, and all the players in the field of dispensation of justice.

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