No bar on collegium to go ahead with its work to appoint judges: Supreme Court

New Delhi(PTI): The Supreme court on Thursday said there was no bar on the collegium to go ahead with its work to appoint judges for the higher judiciary, which is plagued with large-scale vacancies.

Supreme Court

The indication that it was not interfering with the functioning of the collegium system came while the apex court decided to give nine more days to elicit suggestions to improve the functioning of over two-decade-old controversial system of appointment to bring greater transparency in it. “We want to indicate that we don’t want to delay. We don’t want to say anything to the collegium. We have not said anything to the collegium and we will not be saying anything. Whatever they want, they can do. If they do not want to proceed, let them not. It is their business. Let us not delay the proceedings,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar said.

Justice Khehar, who is fourth in seniority in the apex court, has kept himself away from the five-member collegium as he was heading the bench which on October 16 had quashed as unconstitutional the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act aimed at the replacing the collegium system of appointing judges by judges to the higher judiciary. The apex court asked the Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi to issue a public notice inviting representations and suggestions from all quarters of the public and webhost on the website of the Law and Justice Ministry by 1700 hours of November 13. It also accepted the view of Bar Council of India that the apex lawyers’ body be allowed to hold a meeting with all state bar associations and advocates’ bodies from across the nation for compilation of various suggestions.

“We appreciate the efforts made by Attorney General for India. He may web-host the compilation and issue a public notice. Likewise, all those who desire to make suggestions may do so directly, on the website of the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, New Delhi.

“Suggestions received by 17:00 hours on November 13 shall be entertained. No further suggestions will be entertained,” the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, M B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Goel, said while posting the matter for hearing on November 18 and 19. It also said the hearing would be limited only those counsels who are short-listed and allowed time by a Committee comprising of Attorney General for India, Chairman of Bar Council of India and Senior advocate Fali S Nariman.