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Document on judges’ appointment reaches CJI for final call

The draft of the revised Memorandum of Procedure(MoP), which would guide future appointments of Supreme Court and High Court judges by the Collegium, has been handed over to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for ratification.

A day before Holi, the file relating to the draft MoP was sent to CJI TS Thakur by the Law Ministry, which would now place it before the Supreme Court Collegium to take the final call. The Collegium consists of CJI and four senior judges of the Apex Court.

If the draft is ratified, it would be put in public domain by the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry. If changes are suggested, then the Ministry would have to redraft it.

Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda had recently said that while drafting the MoP is the responsibility of the Executive, both the Judiciary and the Executive have to agree on the contents.

The NDA government wants both the Centre and state governments to have their say in recommending candidates for appointment to the higher judiciary.

The revised draft MoP, which was recently approved by an inter-ministerial group, was earlier sent to the Prime Minister’s Office by the Law Ministry for final clearance.

While delivering its verdict on ways to make the Collegium system more transparent, the Apex Court had asked the government to rework the MoP in consultation with the states and high courts.

The draft MoP, which guides the Collegium in the appointment of judges, suggests that the Attorney General at the Centre and Advocates General in states should have a say in recommending candidates for appointment and elevation of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.

If the Supreme Court accepts the draft, then effectively the government can also suggest candidates as the AG is the top law officer appointed by the government.

In the appointment of judges to the High Court, all the High Court judges as well as the respective Advocates General of the state will be free to recommend their candidates, the draft says. That would mean that the state governments can also recommend candidates through their Advocates General.
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