SC Collegium Introduces Procedure for Scrutinizing Judgments Authorized By HC Judges & Assess Relative Merit for Elevation

Supreme Court LAW INSIDER

Bhuvana Marni

Published on: October 11, 2022 at 11:40 IST

In a statement issued today, the Supreme Court collegium disclosed an intriguing fact: the collegium has established a procedure for scrutinizing the decisions rendered by High Court judges who are eligible for promotion to the Supreme Court.

The Collegium has also established a process to evaluate candidates’ relative merit according to objective standards. The precise specifications of the objective criterion are unknown, though.

This process was first established in the collegium meeting on September 26, which was presided over by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit.

On September 26, it was suggested that Justice Dipankar Dutta, the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, be promoted.

The collegium also considered ten more judges’ names. However, due to demands from some collegium members for additional assessments of the applicants, their consideration was deferred until September 30.

The meeting was therefore postponed to September 30, 2022, and other judgments were distributed.

“Though the procedure of circulating the judgments of the prospective candidates and making an objective assessment of their relative merit was introduced for the first time in the meeting held on September 26, 2022”

“Though the name of Mr. Justice Dipankar Dutta was also cleared in that meeting, a demand was raised by some of the members of the Collegium that we should have more judgments of the other candidates. Therefore, the meeting was postponed to September 30, 2022, and more judgments were circulated”.

However, due to Justice DY Chandrachud’s absence, the meeting planned for September 30 at 4.30 PM was unable to take place.

Later, CJI Lalit sent letters to the collegium members asking for their opinions on the suggestions.

Justices Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer opposed the practice of choosing judges through the distribution of letters, while Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph wrote to the CJI to approve the suggestions.

While this was going on, on October 7, the Union Law Minister sent CJI Lalit a letter asking him to identify the person who will succeed him as Chief Justice of India beginning on November 9, 2022.

The Collegium made the decision to adjourn the September 30 meeting in light of the letter from the Union Law Minister.

The statement was released today to explain the circumstances relating to the September 30 meeting.

“In the circumstances, no further steps need be taken and the unfinished work in the meeting called for September 30, 2022, is closed without there being any further deliberation. The meeting dated September 30, 2022, stands discharged”, the statement released today stated.

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