Draft memorandum of procedure: SC collegium wins parliamentary panel's support on national security clause

09 December 2016, 11:47 PM
Supreme Court (Image Source: PTI)
Supreme Court (Image Source: PTI)

The judiciary has earned the support of a Parliamentary committee on a controversial clause in the draft memorandum of procedure which provides the executive a right to reject a candidate for judgeship on issues of national security and public interest; claiming that it amounted to veto power and also goes against constitutional provisions.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Personnel which tabled its report on judges vacancies in Supreme Court and the 24 high courts in Parliament on Thursday, said it understands that the government, on grounds of national security and larger public interest, proposes to decline the Supreme Court collegium's recommendations.

"Moreover, the Committee has learnt that those parameters are proposed as part of the revised MoP. The Committee apprehends that the government may reject any name duly approved by the Supreme Court collegium under the veil of those parameters.

"This would tantamount to giving veto power to the government, which is not as per mandate of the Constitution.

In order to avoid such a situation, the Committee recommends that the terms 'national security' and 'larger public interest' should, in no ambiguous terms, be defined and circumstances/antecedents which fall within their purview listed," the panel said.

The Supreme Court collegium is likely to reaffirm its objection to certain government proposals including the latter's right to reject a candidate for judgeship in the revised draft MoP, a document which guides appointments to the higher judiciary.

Indications are that the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur and comprising four senior judges continues to have reservations over the contentious clauses in the revised draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) handed over to it by the Law Ministry on August 3.

In the revised draft, the government has reiterated that it should have the power to reject any name recommended by the collegium on grounds of "national security" and "public interest".

In May, the collegium had unanimously rejected the clause saying it amounted to interference in the functioning of the judiciary.

While in the initial March draft, the government had refused to grant authority to the collegium to send the same name again after it had been rejected, the new one says the government will inform the collegium about the reasons for rejecting its recommendation. 

First Published: Friday, December 09, 2016 11:41 PM
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