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Supreme Court rift may spur government to contest judges-select-judges system Supreme Court rift may spur government to contest judges-select-judges system

Supreme Court rift may spur government to contest judges-select-judges system

Jan 14, 2018

The upheaval within the Supreme Court (SC) Collegium, with four of its members publicly rebelling against the CJI, appears to have triggered discussions among government and political circles about the possibility of a Presidential Reference to SC on whether recommendations by the splintered body should be binding.

A day after the unprecedented press conference by four senior SC judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurien Joseph— with not-so-subtle political undertone, political as well as legal circles were debating the possibility of the government using the tumult in the top court to seek clarity on whether the recommendations of a badly divided Collegium on appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts is obligatory.

The Collegium, a body comprising the Chief Justice and four next senior-most judges of SC, has an exclusive say in the appointment of judges of the apex court and HCs.

The apex court is opposed to dilution of its "monopoly" on appointments and struck down the law unanimously passed by Parliament during the Modi government's tenure to set up a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to broaden the process of recruitment of members of higher judiciary.

Government sources feel that the mutiny by CJI's four senior-most colleagues against him raises the important constitutional issue of the "sanctity" of such a Collegium. "The Collegium system appears to have become unworkable," said a source.

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