On Rijiju's statement, the Supreme Court said- 'This should not happen'
Contempt petition, debate on collegium
The Supreme Court has rejected Law Minister Kiren Rijiju's statement that the collegium system for the appointment of judges was 'alien' to the Constitution. Objecting to Rijiju's remarks, the Supreme Court said that 'this should not have happened'. A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka was hearing a contempt petition filed against the Center for stalling the collegium's recommendations. This petition was filed in 2021 by an advocate from Bangalore.
The bench said whether the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) is not passing the muster, is the reason why the government is not happy. Hence not approving the names. The court asked the Attorney General and the Solicitor General to convey the court's sentiments to the central government regarding the delay in approving the names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium. On behalf of the Center, the Solicitor General said that 'sometimes media reports are wrong'.
Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh pointed out the Law Minister's remarks during the hearing, in which he had said that 'Never say that the Center is sitting on the recommendations. Do not send to Appoint yourself.
The Supreme Court said that if the names are not being approved then how will the system work? Some names are pending for the last one and a half years. The court also said that 'it cannot be that you can withhold names, it frustrates the whole system...and sometimes when you make appointments, you pick up some names from the list and others do not clarify. What you do is effectively barring seniority.' The Supreme Court further said that many recommendations are pending for four months, and have crossed the time limit. It states that the deadline has to be followed. The apex court requested the Center to resolve the issue.
Speaking to a TV channel, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju launched an attack on the current appointment system, saying the collegium system was 'alien' to the Constitution. The Supreme Court, at its discretion, created the collegium through a court decision. Before 1991, all judges were appointed by the government. The Union Minister said that the Constitution of India is a 'religious document' for all, especially for the government. He had questioned that 'anything which is different from the Constitution just because of the decision of the courts or some judges, how can you expect that decision to get the support of the country'.