The collegium system is an intricate part of the judicial structure in India. It is a system under which appointments and transfers of judges are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. It has its roots in the Constitution of India, and it is designed to maintain the independence of the judiciary, keeping it free from executive influence. However, the system has its critics, many of whom argue that it lacks transparency and accountability.
For the fourth time in two years, the Centre has rejected a recommendation made by the collegium for the appointment of a judge in Jammu and Kashmir. This move has surprised many and raised questions about the independence of the judiciary and the balance of power between the executive and the judiciary. The name rejected this time is not new; it has been recommended and rejected multiple times in the past.
Repeated rejections of the collegium's recommendations have several implications. First, it raises questions about the credibility of the collegium system. If the recommendations of the collegium are not accepted, it undermines the system's effectiveness. Second, it can lead to a power tussle between the judiciary and the executive. The judiciary is seen as the guardian of the constitution and its independence is critical. If the executive repeatedly rejects its recommendations, it can lead to a conflict between the two branches of government.
The Centre has not made public the reasons for the rejection. However, it is known that the government has the power to return a recommendation made by the collegium if it disagrees with it. The government can ask for reconsideration, citing reasons for its disagreement. However, if the collegium reiterates its recommendation, the government is bound to accept it. The fact that the same name has been rejected four times suggests that there is a strong disagreement between the Centre and the collegium over the appointment.
The judge in question, whose name has been recommended and rejected four times, is currently serving in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. His/Her performance has been praised by many in the legal fraternity, which makes the Centre's repeated rejection of his/her appointment puzzling. The judge's appointment would not just fill a vacancy but also add to the strength of the judiciary in Jammu and Kashmir, a region that has seen much turmoil and needs a strong judicial system.
The current standoff between the Centre and the collegium raises several questions that need to be addressed. Will the collegium reiterate its recommendation, forcing the Centre to accept it? Or will the Centre stand its ground, leading to a constitutional crisis? The actions of both the Centre and the collegium in the coming days will have far-reaching implications for the judiciary and the balance of power between the judiciary and the executive in India. This episode has also reignited the debate about the need for judicial reforms and the transparency of the collegium system.