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SC Collegium opens up to transparency

SC Collegium opens up to transparency

The decisions taken by the collegium would be uploaded on the website of the apex court.

The court will post on its website all decisions relating to the elevation, transfers and appointments of judges made by the collegium.

As a start, the SC has posted online detailed reasons for its October 3, 2017 recommendations for judicial appointments to the Madras HC and the Kerala HC.

The Collegium also gives a summary one-liner on the Intelligence Bureau (IB) reports on the "personal and professional image" of the candidates who were under consideration.

The collegium consisting of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J.Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph adopted a resolution on October 3 to "ensure transparency and yet maintain confidentiality in the Collegium system".

The collegium system of appointment, in place since 1993, has come under criticism, especially from the government for being opaque.

Though experts view that the Supreme Court Collegium has heralded a new age of transparency by deciding to publicly reveal the names while indicating reasons for recommending or rejecting names for judicial appointment, transfer or elevation, they claim that this decision may cause acute embarrassment for those who were in the race for judgeship.

It may be recalled here that Justice Chelameswar had refused to attend the collegium's meetings, as long as its deliberations were kept under wraps. The Centre has been pushing to scrap it and appoint another panel - the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act (NJAC) - to decide on elevating judges, one in which the executive would have a say.

In another batch of six judicial officers from Tamil Nadu, the Collegium found only three judicial officers - T Krishnavalli, R Pongiappan and R Hemalatha - suitable for appointment as judges of the Madras HC.

Subsequently, however, he had joined the rest in the consequential judgment on the collegium because it sought to improve its system.

Petitioner-lawyer Rishi Malhotra sought a court order to declare Section 354 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) - which provides for execution by hanging - ultra vires of the Constitution, contending that the method given therein was unconstitutional, painful, and not a dignified way to end (human) life.

The next day, Griffen issued an order halting the execution of nine inmates in a case brought by a drug manufacturer, which asked for the move because it said its drug was never meant to be used in capital punishment.

During the hearing Justice D Y Chandrachud who is part of the bench said 'shooting was associated with authoritarian regimes while intravenous lethal injection mode was severely criticised in the US.

In Thursday's federal filing, however, Griffen said he has been barred for life from presiding over any death penalty cases just for exercising his First Amendment right "to pray silently on (my) time. In other words, this may include the right of a dying man to also die with dignity when his life is ebbing out", it added.