Saturday, December 9, 2023

Supreme Court should lay down 30-day deadline for government to respond to Collegium recommendation: Rohinton Nariman

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Justice Rohinton Nariman, the former Supreme Court judge, has suggested that the Apex Court should put a 30-day deadline for the Central government for responding to the recommendation by the Collegium on appointment of judges.

Justice Nariman added that this should be taken up on the judicial side by a Constitution Bench by a Fifth Judges case.

Justice Nariman said that he wishes Supreme Court constitutes another bench of at least 5 judges in which the MoP (Memorandum of Procedure) which will tie all the lose ends.

Justice Nariman also emphasised on the need for Constitution Bench to put across that once a name is sent by the Collegium to the government, and the government has nothing to say, for a period of 30 days, it would be assumed that it has nothing to say.

Justice Nariman made this comment due to the allegation raised against the Central government on the count that it is refusing to respond to the Collegium recommendations.

Justice Nariman questioned the attitude by the government of “sitting over” the files without clearing it or rejecting them.

Justice Nariman said that this is being done by the government to take advantage of the frequent changes to the Collegium’s composition.

Justice Nariman also mentioned that sitting on names is a very deadly thing against democracy in this country. Clarifying about the motive, he said that what Government is really doing is that, they are waiting out for a particular Collegium to hope that another Collegium changes its mind. And that happens all the time.

He added that this is only because government is continuous, you carry on for five years – at least. The Collegiums that come, have a huge attrition rate.

Justice Nariman said that thus it is very important thing that a judgment of the Supreme Court lays down a deadline for the government to respond, the former judge said.

Justice Nariman was delivering the MC Chagla Memorial Lecture on A tale of two Constitutions- India and the United States: the long and short of it all.

Justice Nariman said the top court should also lay down whether, after reiteration, the appointment should take place within a fixed period.

Justice Nariman said that if within 30 days the government says ‘no’ for good reasons and the Collegium sends them back with the reasons saying, “No, please appoint”.

He reiterated that whether at the end of 30 days or the end of the reiteration, appointment should also take place within a fixed time, whatever be the time period.

Justice Nariman also underlined the significance of having institutions which are functional without which the Constitution would be meaningless.

Justice Rohinton Nariman said that it is important to remember that you may have forged for yourself an excellent Constitution. But if, ultimately, those who are the institutions under it malfunction, there is very little you can do. Constitution should be written off.

The former Supreme Court judge ended his lecture saying that if the last bastion of democracy, the judiciary, falls, we would be led to dark ages.

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