Context - 

  • The Supreme Court of India has chastised the Union Administration for withholding names proposed by the Collegium for judicial appointments, claiming that the government is using silence and inactivity as "some type of mechanism" to push qualified applicants and notable attorneys to withdraw their agreement.
  • The Supreme Court has seven judicial openings out of 34 justices. As of November 1, there were 335 judicial vacancies in the 25 High Courts out of a total sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges.
  • Judges of the higher judiciary are solely recruited through the collegium system, and the government only has a role once the Collegium has settled on names.

The Collegium System:

  • A panel comprising the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most Supreme Court justices decides on appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to the Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and the Apex Court under the Collegium System.
  • Although the term "Collegium" is not stated in the Indian Constitution, it has come into existence due to a Judicial Pronouncement.

The Evolution of the Collegium System:

  • According to the Constitution, the PresidentPresident appoints Supreme Court justices. The PresidentPresident appoints the chief justice after consulting with as many Supreme Court and high court justices as he considers appropriate.
  • The PresidentPresident appoints the other justices after consulting with the chief justice and as many additional Supreme Court and high court judges as he considers appropriate.
  • Consultation with the Chief Justice is required when a judge other than the Chief Justice is appointed.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in the First Judges Case (1982) that consultation does not imply agreement but rather an exchange of ideas.
  • Second judges case (1993): The court reversed its previous judgment and redefined the term consultation to entail consensus.
  • It decided that the CJI's opinion in the nomination of Supreme Court judges is binding on the PresidentPresident. Any such advice, however, would be given only after CJI confers with two of his most senior judges.
  • Case of the third judge (1998): The consultation procedure should be based on many judges.
  • Before presenting a recommendation to the PresidentPresident, the CJI should consult a Collegium of four senior-most judges. If two judges disagree, he should not convey the suggestion to the PresidentPresident.

Qualifications for Supreme Court Justices include the following:

  • A person is ineligible for nomination as a Supreme Court Judge unless he or she.
  • Is an Indian citizen, and
  • Has served as a judge on a High Court or two such Courts in a row for at least five years; or
  • Has been an advocate of a High Court or two or more such Courts in succession for at least ten years, or is a renowned jurist in the judgment of the PresidentPresident
  • Before taking office as a Supreme Court Judge, each individual must take and subscribe to an oath or affirmation in the manner prescribed in the Third Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The Constitution does not specify a minimum age for a judge to hold office.
  • A Supreme Court Judge remains in office until he or she reaches age 65.
  • A Supreme Court Justice may propose his or her resignation to the PresidentPresident before age 65.
  • After retirement, a Supreme Court Justice may not practice law in any court in India's jurisdiction or appear before any government-appointed institution.

High Court Judges are appointed:

  • The PresidentPresident appoints the Chief Justice of a High Court in conjunction with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State, according to Article 217.
  • For the selection of judges, a Collegium led by the CJI provides recommendations to the government.
  • The Collegium proposes qualified names to the Law Ministry, which then recommends them to the PresidentPresident.
  • The PresidentPresident either confirms the names or sends them back to the Supreme Court for reconsideration.
  • If the Supreme Court sends the names a second time, the PresidentPresident appoints the suggested individuals.

Qualification:

  • He should be an Indian citizen.
  • He should have held a judicial post in India for ten years or been an advocate in the high court(s) for ten years.
  • There is no set minimum age for High Court justices.
  • A High Court Judge is appointed for a term of 62 years.
  • The wages and allowances of the Chief Justice of the High Court and other High Court Judges are regularly determined by legislation by the parliament.
  • Salaries and other costs are deducted from the State's consolidated fund.
  • The Consolidated Fund of India provides a pension.
  • A High Court Judge can be removed from office only for proven misbehaviour or incompetence, and only, in the same way, a Supreme Court Judge can be removed.

Concern -

  • In Subordinate Courts around the country, almost 31 million cases are pending.
  • The case's pending status harms investors' trust.
  • High pendency and delays in the judicial system are affecting economic activity.
  • It burdens the courts and indirectly damages other litigants.
  • It raises project expenses and causes project delays.
  • Slows administrative procedures, causing decision-making to be delayed.
  • Diversion of valuable resources
  • It has an impact on the ease of conducting business.

Steps taken by the government to minimize judicial pending cases include:

  • The "National Litigation Policy 2010" was adopted to make the government a more efficient and responsible litigator.
  • Following the National Litigation Policy 2010, all states developed state litigation policies.
  • The Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) was established in 2015 to track instances in which the government is involved.
  • The Supreme Court instructed the government that prisoners sentenced to 6 months or a year in jail should be assigned social service work rather than being transferred to overcrowded prisons.

Steps must be taken to decrease judicial pending cases.

  • The National Litigation Policy should be overhauled.
  • Address all three levels of the dispute:
  1. Pre-litigation
  2. Litigation
  3. Stage following lawsuit.
  • Establish fair accountability measures, and establish consequences for violations.
  • Appointment of a Nodal Officer to check the status of cases in each department regularly.
  • To encourage mediation, alternative conflict resolution procedures should be promoted.
  • Coordination of government and judiciary activity.
  • Judicial capability in subordinate courts should be increased to alleviate the strain on higher courts.
  • Increase the budget for the judiciary.
  • Improve the court's case management and automation system.
  • Make benches for each subject.
  • Tax departments must restrict their appeals since their success record at all three levels of the judiciary is less than 30%.
  • Internal conflict resolution methods that are strong.
  • The Ministry of Consumer Affairs must implement step-by-step online dispute settlement.
  • Judges should write shorter, more focused decisions.

The Future Perspectives - 

  • Courts must monitor the status of cases depending on their urgency and kind.
  • Particular sorts of cases must be resolved within a specific time limit by the courts.
  • Understand why certain courts work successfully despite a judge shortage and use these courts as role models.
  • Analytics tools may be created to assist courts in monitoring cases based on factors such as how long an accused has been in judicial custody, cases that may harm the general public, and cases that have been waiting for a long time.
  • Non-criminal offenders and petty criminals should be dealt with using alternative techniques.

Source: TH