NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to prepare fresh memorandum of procedure (MOP) in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for the appointment of judges for the apex court and high courts.
Issuing a slew of guidelines to improve the collegium system and to make the procedure more transparent and accountable, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar also asked the government to look into five key aspects — eligibility criteria, transparency in appointment process, setting up of secretariat for management of selection process, mechanism to deal with complaints against those who are being considered for appointment and to look into the miscellaneous issues.
Narrating the reasons after examining thousands of suggestions from various quarters, the court said, “The Government of India may finalise the existing MOP by supplementing it in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI). The CJI will take a decision based on the unanimous view of the collegium comprising the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court,” the bench said.
“The MOP may indicate the eligibility criteria, such as the minimum age, for the guidance of the collegium (both at the level of the High Court and the Supreme Court) for appointment of Judges, after inviting and taking into consideration the views of the State Government and the Government of India (as the case may be) from time to time,” it said.
Ensuring transparency in the appointment process, the bench said the MoP for the appointment of judges ought to be made available on the website of the court concerned and on the website of the department of justice of the government of India.
The bench also noted that the MOP may provide for an appropriate procedure for “minuting the discussions including recording the dissenting opinion of the judges in the collegium while making provision for the confidentiality of the minutes consistent with the requirement of transparency in the system of appointment of judges.”
The bench said that for better management of the system, the MOP may provide for establishment of secretariat for each high courts and the apex court and prescribe its functions, duties and responsibilities. The court passed the order after noting the submission of attorney general Mukul Rohatgi that the MOP and introducing amendments therein, had always been prepared by the Government in consultation with the President of India and the CJI.
The court also noted down the submissions of the AG who had noted that formulation of MOP was an administrative responsibility which fell in the executive domain and the apex court neither had expertise nor the wherewithal for proposing amendments in the existing MOP which was drawn on June 30, 1999 by the Government for improving the collegium system.