Challenge to Indian system for judicial appointments

January 29, 2013 The system for judicial appointments in India is being challenged in the courts, with applicants seeking review of a 1993 decision upholding the primacy of the collegium system.

The petitioner, Rajasthan-based Suraz India Trust argues that the system is ‘ultra vires’ and ‘unconstitutional’ because it was brought into existence by judgments of the supreme court and is not mentioned in the constitution.

The collegium is composed of the four senior most judges in the supreme court, the Chief Justice of India and the three most senior judges iof the relevant high court including its chief justice. Critics have said that this system amounts to judges appointing themselves.

Senior advocate AK Ganguli, an amicus curiae in the matter, argues that the collegium system "is contrary to constitutional foundations of democracy, separation of powers and checks and balances”. He added that the system “resulted in an anomaly in as much the executive no longer has to share any responsibility in filling up of vacancies in the courts; the entire responsibility being that of the collegium”.

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