In A Historic Move, Supreme Court Decides to Make Collegium Decisions Transparent

All information will be available under the new tab "Collegium Resolutions" on the official portal of the top court.

The Collegium deferred its decision in the case of B. Sarodjiny Devy, Principal District Judge, Villipuram, "keeping in view the fact that there is an inquiry pending against her in the High Court".

The fight between Griffen and the Arkansas Supreme Court first came to a head after the lower court judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on behalf of drug manufacturer McKesson-Medical Surgical to halt executions dates for seven Arkansas death-row inmates over a 11-day period from April 17 to April 27. The reasons for certain decision will also be uploaded on the court's website. It was a majority verdict by four out of five judges but some of the judges who formed the majority view did accept that the collegium failed to inspire confidence in judicial appointments and needed reforms.

Following sustained criticism over its opaque nature of functioning, the collegium announced that it has chose to upload on the apex court's website decisions taken by it, including appointments, elevation, transfer and confirmation of judges, in order to ensure transparency in its proceedings.

On 16 October 2015, the apex court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 that sought to give the executive a say in appointments to the higher judiciary.

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.

Re: Transparency in Collegium system.

"The decisions henceforth taken by the Collegium indicating reasons shall be put on the website of Supreme Court, when recommendation (s) is/are sent to Government with regard to cases relating to initial elevation to High Court Bench, confirmation as permanent Judge (s) of High Court, elevation to the post of Chief Justice of High Court, transfer of High Court Chief Justices/Judges and elevation to Supreme Court, because on each occasion, the material which is considered by the Collegium is different". As a result, he would lose the chance of becoming the chief justice as he would be third in the seniority list after the transfer. While the judge himself has kept his opinion to himself, there have been many within the judicial profession who have lambasted the judiciary for virtually sidelining the judge who had shown tremendous spine in ordering a CBI enquiry into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case during the Godhra riots of 2002.

This radical move comes close on the heels of the row over the transfer and subsequent resignation of Justice Jayant Patel of Karnataka High Court.

The Supreme Court collegium comprising the Chief Justice and four senior-most judges have in a historic move finally chose to make public the judges' appointment and transfer procedure.

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.

  • Jack Mann