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The Collegium system

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Judiciary


Source: TH

 Context: The SC Collegium under CJI DY Chandrachud has quietly and transparently streamlined the appointment process of judges to the constitutional courts.

The Collegium system:

  • About:
    • The collegium system, which has evolved through judgments of the SC, is the way by which judges of the SC and HCs are appointed and transferred.
    • It is a five-member body, headed by the incumbent CJI and comprises the four other senior most judges of the SC at that time.
  • Evolution – Three Judges Cases:
    • P. Gupta & Others v. Union of India (1981), Advocate on Record Association v. UoI (1993) and re Presidential Reference case (1998).
    • It was established that the recommendation made by the CJI without following the consultation process for the appointment of SC and HC Judges is not binding on the government.
  • Criticism:
    • The system is non-transparent since it is seen as a closed-door affair with no prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria, or selection procedure.
    • The system is opaque and not accountable. Judges do not appoint judges all over the world, but in India, they do.
    • Limited role of the government, may object to and seek clarification on the collegium’s choices, but if the collegium reiterates the same names, the government is bound to appoint them.
  • Efforts to reform the collegium system: NJAC, Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), etc.

How has the appointment process been streamlined recently?

  • Adding a balanced mix of merit and seniority through a selection procedure which involves meaningful discussion on and assessment of candidates’ judicial acumen.
  • Recommendations of the Collegium are now notified within days by the government.
  • The requirements for candidatesconsideration have been made public by the Collegium’s resolutions.


Points under the Collegium’s consideration:

  • Quality of judgments of the candidates: A Judgment Evaluation Committee goes through the judicial work of the candidates.
    • Justice Dipankar Dutta’s name was the first to be cleared for SC appointment by the Collegium in this manner.
  • The seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges in their respective parent HCs as well as overall seniority of the HC Judges.
  • The merit, performance and integrity of the judges are under consideration.
  • The need to ensure diversity and inclusion in the SC. Diversity and inclusion means –
    • Representation of HC not/inadequately represented;
    • Appointment of persons from marginalised and backward segments of society;
    • Gender diversity (Justice Sunita Agarwal appointed as the CJ of the Gujarat HC); and
    • Representation of minorities.
  • The need to ensure the better administration of justice: As a result, the Collegium did not bow to the request made by three HC judges against their out-of-State transfers.


Insta Links:

The impasse over the appointment of judges


Prelims Links: UPSC 2019

Consider the following statements:

  1. The 44th Amendment to the Constitution of India introduced an article placing the election of the Prime Minister beyond judicial review
  2. Supreme Court of India struck down the 99th amendment to the Constitution of India as being violative of the independence of the judiciary

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2


Ans: 2