SCAORA seeks involvement of lawyers’ bodies in judges appointment

New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association (SCAORA) has suggested a consultative mechanism comprising judges outside the collegium and representatives of various lawyers bodies for selection of candidates for appointment as apex court and high court judges.

The SCAORA in its suggestion for a consultative mechanism to assist the collegium said that consultative bodies be formed both at the level of the apex court and the high courts for the selection and shortlisting of the candidates.

The suggestion by SCAORA and others including by the government would be considered by the apex court’s constitution bench which commences on Tuesday the hearing on the suggestions for the improved and transparent functioning of the collegium system.

The SCAORA has said that the consultative body being suggested by it would consist of distinguished jurists, leading lawyers, judges outside the collegium, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, SCAORA president at the apex court and similarly in the high courts.

On a batch of petitions in which SCAORA was the lead petitioner, the apex court constitution bench had on October 16 struck down as “unconstitutional and void” the constriction’s 99th amendment that paved the way for the National Judicial Appointment Commission and the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014.

While striking down NJAC as “unconstitutional and void”, the constitution bench comprising Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had restored the operation of earlier collegium system for appointments to the higher judiciary.

The constitution bench by its October 16 order had invited the suggestion for the improved working of the collegium system.

The main petitioner in the challenge to the constitutional validity of the 99th constitutional amendment and the NJAC Act, 2014, the SCAORA has suggested a consultative body to assist the apex court collegium comprising the chief justice and four senior most judges after him.

It said a similar consultative body may be constituted in the high courts to assist them in short-listing candidates, and also that high courts should maintain a panel of candidates suitable for consideration to be the judge.

The panel should be there irrespective of the vacancies and reviewed every two years to include new names. “In case of vacancies the Collegium may recommend the names from the ‘Zone of Consideration’ subject to further enquiry and their satisfaction following the guidelines,” SCAORA said in its suggestions.

“Guidelines with respect to the consultation, minimum criteria, acceptance of nominations, mechanism of short listing may be published and put in the public domain on the website,” it added.

“Rules for selection and guidelines should ensure transparency,” the SCAORA said that the process of filling a vacancy of a judge should commence six months before a vacancy was to actually arise so that those aspiring to be considered may apply well in advance, and there be time for feedback on them.

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