SC to examine Constitutional validity of collegium system

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred rpt referred a set of 10 vital questions for consideration by a larger bench on the Constitutional validity of the present collegium system which gives primacy to the judiciary over the executive in the appointment of apex court and high court judges.

A special bench of justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan, which referred the matter to the Chief Justice of India on Monday, passed a detailed order after amicus cuarie A K Ganguly formulated the questions for consideration by a larger bench.

The bench wanted the apex court to consider afresh whether the judiciary has the power to appoint judges on its own and whether the President of India and the Union Cabinet is bound by the advice of the Chief Justice of India.

The issues assumes importance as the present system of judges appointment has come under sharp criticism from various quarters particulary in the wake of the controversy surrounding allegations of land grabbing and misconduct against Justice P D Dinakaran whose elevation was stalled to the Supreme Court.

The questions framed by the special bench are:

1. Whether the rulings of the seven-judge bench judges in the SC Advocates on Records Association case and nine-judge bench judgment in 1998 in the Presidential reference was in conformity with Article 124(2) of the Constitution. The Article relates to appointment of judges in the SC and High Courts.

2:Whether there exists any collegium system of appointment in the Constitution.

3:Whether the Constitution can be amended by a judicial verdict.

4:Whether there was a Constitutional scheme that the Supreme Court and High Court judges can be appointed by mutual discussion and consensus between the judiciary and the executive or the judiciary alone can appoint judges.

5:Whether consultation means concurrence.

On Monday, the union government had favoured a review of a 1993 verdict of the Supreme Court which gave primacy to the judiciary over the executive in appointment of the judges.

Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati supported the views of the petitioner Rajiv Daiya of Suraz India Trust, an NGO, for the review of the October 1993 ruling.

The bench referred the matter to the CJI after both Vahanvati and senior counsel A K Ganguly, appearing as an amicus curiea, supported the petitioner`s view that the judiciary should not have absolute power in appointment of the high court and the apex court judges.