Centre Wants Seat In Judges’ Appointments Body To Infuse Transparency

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The Supreme Court has firmly defended the collegium system. Opposition parties like the Congress, Trinamool and AAP have backed the top court.

This will “infuse transparency and public accountability”, the Law Minister says in a letter that vastly escalates a dispute between the government and the judiciary since last year. Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has written to the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, that the Supreme Court collegium that decides on judges’ appointments should include government representatives.

Today Mr Rijiju said, responding to criticism by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal the letter is “just the precise follow-up action” suggested by the Supreme Court while striking down the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC), among others.

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In a tweet Arvind Kejriwal, the chief of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), called the government’s letter “dangerous” . “This is extremely dangerous. There should be absolutely no government interference in judicial appointments.”

They argue that the government should have a role in selection of judges, which has been the domain of the Supreme Court Collegium since 1993. In the war of words over judges’ appointments, several ministers – current and former – and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar have criticised what they call “opaqueness” of the judiciary.

In various statements, Mr Rijiju has called the collegium system “alien” to the constitution and has strongly objected to any system in which the government has no right to appoint judges. The Supreme Court has firmly defended the collegium system. Opposition parties like the Congress, Trinamool and AAP have backed the top court.

The commission would have comprised members of the government and the judiciary. He has also criticised the Supreme Court for scrapping the National Judicial Appointments Commission set up by the BJP-led government through a law enacted in 2014.

Vice President Dhankhar has echoed these views on multiple platforms. Last week, he criticised “one-upmanship and public posturing” from judicial platforms and said the scrapping of the judicial commission “was a scenario perhaps unparalleled in the democratic history of the world.”

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