Supreme Court: The Supreme Court denied a request for information about a meeting of its top committee for appointing justices today, stating that the public cannot be informed of these discussions.
According to the Supreme Court, “Whatever is discussed (in collegium meetings) shall not be in the public domain. Unless any significant decision is taken at the meeting and a resolution is passed, only the final decision needs to be uploaded.”
Details of a Collegium meeting on the nomination of two justices on December 12, 2018, that were never made public, were requested in a petition. The Right to Information Act request for the information was denied, and the petitioner, activist Anjali Bhardwaj, disputed the ruling.
The judges stated that no judgement was made at the meeting and pointed out that the petitioner had “relied on articles” based on conversations with one of the judges present.
“We do not want to comment on the same. The subsequent resolution was very clear. There is no substance in the (petition), it deserves to be dismissed,” the top court remarked.
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The Supreme Court website does not have the meeting’s specifics posted
In the aforementioned meeting, Justices Madan B. Lokur, AK Sikri, SA Bobde, and NV Ramana, along with then-Chairman of the Supreme Court Ranjan Gogoi, made certain decisions about the promotion of judges to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court website does not have the meeting’s specifics posted.
Later, the judgments were overturned.
After a new collegium was established in the wake of Justice Lokur’s retirement, two of the candidates for the Supreme Court are said to have been pulled from consideration. This collegium made the decision to “reconsider” the prior suggestions at a meeting on January 10.
In January 2019, Justice Lokur expressed concern that the meeting’s resolution had not been posted online.
Attorney Prashant Bhushan argued against the exclusion of the collegium’s rulings from RTI on behalf of the petition. “The Supreme Court is now reversing its previous statement that the right to information is a fundamental right; don’t the people of the country have a right to know?”
The acrimonious back-and-forth between the administration and the court over judge appointments is exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s steadfast refusal to make collegium discussions public.
A week ago, the Supreme Court advised against “derailing the collegium system” based on the claims of “some busybody” when hearing the petition, claiming that the high court is one of the most open institutions in the nation.
“Nowadays, it has become a fashion to comment upon earlier decisions (of the collegium) made when they (former judges) were part of the collegium. We don’t want to say anything on their comments,” Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar remarked.
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Supreme Court on Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar’s statement in the Rajya Sabha
Yesterday, the Supreme Court responded sharply to Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar’s statement in the Rajya Sabha over the appointment of justices. The court ruled that it was necessary to caution high constitutional functionaries when they made public comments against the Supreme Court Collegium.
According to the Supreme Court, the Collegium system is the “law of the land” and should be “followed to the teeth.” The judges argued that the Collegium system will continue to be the rule of the land despite the opinions of various social groups.
In his remarks, Mr. Dhankhar discussed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), a law regulating judicial nominations that was later repealed and which gave the government a say in judicial appointments.
The selection of judges has been the purview of the Supreme Court Collegium since 1991, although many central ministers, both current and former, have advocated that the government should play a role in the process.
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