New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium has conceded to the government’s contentious “national security” clause in the draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) that lays down the procedure for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
The Times of India first reported this development on Wednesday.
The national security clause gives a veto right to the government to reject a name recommended by the collegium.
The government and the collegium had differed on this aspect since August 2016. The collegium during former Chief Justice T.S. Thakur had said that the term “national security” is vague and inclusive and needs to be narrowly defined.
The issue of whether an independent secretariat on judicial appointments must be set up in high courts and the apex court is yet to be resolved.
The apex court collegium consists of the court’s five senior-most judges—Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, justices Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan B. Lokur.
The draft MoP is likely to be sent to the government soon for consideration. Although judicial appointments to the high courts and the apex court have been taking place in spite of the MoP being finalized, the move is likely to expedite the procedure and end the impasse between the judiciary and the government.
“The finer creases will be ironed out in the next meeting. In principle, there is consensus on the national security clause,” a person familiar to the development said, who did not wish to be identified.
In October 2015, the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and a related constitutional amendment which proposed a six-member panel, including the law minister and two independent persons, to appoint judges to high courts and the apex court.
The verdict, however, sought to improve the functioning of the collegium, which recommends the names of judges to the government and called for a fresh MoP that is transparent and accountable.