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Document on judges’ appointment reaches PMO for final approval

The draft Memorandum of Procedure, which would laydown the broad framework to facilitate appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges by the collegium, has reached the Prime Minister’s Office for approval before being handed over to the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

The NDA government wants both the Centre and state governments to have a say in recommending candidates for appointment to the higher judiciary. The revised draft memorandum of procedure (MoP), which was recently approved by an inter-ministerial group, has been sent to the PMO by the Law Ministry for final clearance. It would then be sent to the CJI for the final approval.

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

While the draft MoP has been finalised by an inter-ministerial group, headed by Sushma Swaraj, it is likely to undergo changes before being sent to the CJI for approval. The draft states that any dissent note to a recommendation of the collegium to appoint or elevate a judge should be mandatorily shared with the Executive.
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