The Centre and the Collegium
The Centre’s commitment to notifying Justice Siddharth Mridul’s appointment as Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court has been a positive step towards addressing the issues surrounding judicial appointments lately. Furthermore, the government’s willingness to consider 70 recommended names for High Court judgeships demonstrates an increased receptiveness to the Collegium’s suggestions.
- Appointment of Judges, Article 224A, Collegium System
Discuss the significance of adhering to timelines in the judicial appointment process and its impact on the relationship between the Centre and the Collegium. (150 words)
Dimensions of the Article:
- The Centre’s Assurance and the Collegium’s Recommendations
- The Transfer of Justice M.V. Muralidaran
- The Centre’s Handling of Collegium Recommendations
The Centre’s Assurance and the Collegium’s Recommendations:
- The Centre’s prompt assurance to notify Justice Siddharth Mridul’s appointment as Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court reflects a growing willingness to collaborate with the Collegium.
- The government’s further consideration of 70 recommended names for High Court judgeships signifies a significant shift in its approach. The delay in confirming Justice Mridul’s appointment raised eyebrows, and it was linked to the state government’s input on the matter.
- This delay was somewhat perplexing, considering the Collegium had endorsed Justice Mridul’s appointment on July 5. Such delays can disrupt the judicial system and hinder the delivery of justice.
The Transfer of Justice M.V. Muralidaran:
- Justice M.V. Muralidaran’s transfer from Manipur to the Calcutta High Court, as proposed by the Collegium, remains pending. This transition’s timeline is uncertain, and it is essential to observe how long the Centre takes to finalize the transfer.
- Justice Muralidaran played a significant role in the Manipur government’s consideration of including the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes category, an action that triggered ethnic tensions in the region.
- The fact that the Supreme Court did not issue a stay order on his directive suggests the Centre’s concerns about further escalating tensions.
The Centre’s Handling of Collegium Recommendations:
- There have been instances where the Centre exhibited selective treatment of the Collegium’s recommendations. Some names recommended multiple times were returned to the Collegium.
- The appointment of Justice S. Muralidhar as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court faced prolonged delays, prompting the Collegium to withdraw its recommendation. Similarly, Justice T. Raja’s transfer to the Rajasthan High Court was ignored by the government until his retirement.
- This strained relationship between the government and the Collegium is evident and often reaches a point of contention.
- The conflict surrounding judicial appointments must be addressed. The appointment process should be streamlined in line with the Supreme Court’s directive in April 2021, which set clear timelines for the government to process Collegium recommendations and voice any reservations.
- If the Collegium reiterates any recommendation, the government should implement it within three to four weeks. Regardless of the shortcomings of the Collegium process, it is essential to maintain the legal precedent that a reiterated decision is binding on the government to preserve the integrity of the judiciary.
The Centre’s commitment to timely judicial appointments and its cooperation with the Collegium is essential for the effective functioning of the judicial system. The delays and selective handling of recommendations should be addressed to maintain the credibility of the appointment process. A more streamlined and cooperative approach between the Centre and the Collegium will ultimately benefit the Indian judiciary and uphold the principles of justice and fairness.