#NJAC: Centre forwards new MoP; Suggest 3 Bar elevations, appointment Secretariat & more

The Central government has sent a final draft of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on judicial appointments to Chief Justice TS Thakur for consultation, reports the Indian Express.

The MoP has been finalised by a Group of Ministers headed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

One of the most significant proposals in the new MoP is the appointment of up to three judges to the Supreme Court from the Bar. The MoP states that these judges should be appointed from amongst eminent members of the Bar and distinguished jurists and any judge of the Supreme Court can make recommendations to the Collegium regarding such appointments from the Bar.

Another important aspect that the new MoP has put forth is the consideration of merit as a yardstick for appointment. The MoP Provides that seniority as Chief Justice/ judge of a High Court should be the main criterion for appointment as a Supreme Court judge besides “merit and integrity”.

The new MoP provides for evaluation of judgments delivered by a High Court judge during the last five years and initiatives undertaken for improvement of judicial administration as a criterion for promotion as Chief Justice of a High Court.

The MoP has also accepted the suggestion made by the Constitution bench which had heard the NJAC case to set up a Secretariat for maintaining all records pertaining to appointments, scheduling meetings of the Collegium, and to consider complaints pertaining to judicial appointments.

The MoP also states that a High court should not have an acting Chief Justice for more than 3 months within which time a permanent Chief Justice should be appointed.  In case a senior Chief Justice of a High Court is bypassed in favour of another judge for elevation to Supreme Court, the reasons for the same should be recorded in writing.

The Centre finalised this new MoP based on an order by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court which had struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission. The Bench had then invited suggestions from the public to improve the working of the Collegium system. Subsequently, it had left it to the Centre to amend the MoP while giving some broad suggestions.