The Centre has initiated the process of detailed scrutiny of proposals received for the appointment of judges from High Court, as per the note dated August 9 sent by the Department of Justice to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha.
The note added, “in the case of advocates, their reported judgments and in case of judicial officers, their case disposal time and the number of adjournments are being evaluated by an in house team having a legal background,” according to the Indian Express report.
A committee of judges evaluates the best few judgments of judicial officers (judges of the subordinate courts), who is part of a larger pool which the high court collegium may consider for a recommendation for elevation to the HC Bench.
The judicial officers are evaluated on various attributes and are given numerical grading. Advocates who are part of the pool give a list of the reported judgments of cases which they have argued in the high court.
As per procedure, once the three-member HC collegium recommends a name to the Supreme Court collegium, it sends the performance record of the candidate.
The recommendation is initially sent to the law ministry, which attaches an IB report about the candidate’s record and forwards it to the SC collegium for a final call.
Now, the law ministry has started scrutinizing the reported judgments of advocates and case disposal time and number of adjournments granted by judicial officers.
The instances of alleged corruption and irregularities have brought the system under the scanner. In order to change this, the BJP-led NDA government in December 2014 replaced the collegium system of appointments with the NJAC.
The apex court struck it down in October 2015 and noted that the political-executive cannot be given any hand in the judges’ appointment process.
In December 2015, the Supreme Court allowed the government to “finalize the existing Memorandum of Procedure by supplementing it in consultation with the Chief Justice of India”.
The government’s efforts to change the judicial appointments mechanism got a boost again recently after the July 4, 2017, verdict of the Supreme Court, wherein two judges of the seven-judge bench which convicted and sentenced Justice Karnan for contempt said in their judgement that the case “highlighted the need to revisit the process of selection and appointment of judges”.