Central Government clears appointment of Justice N Kotiswar Singh, Justice Sonia G Gokani,Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Jaswant Singh as Chief Justices of High Courts

Recently Central Government clears the appointments of chief Justices of high courts of india:

  1. Justice N Kotiswar Singh as Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court,[1]
  2. Justice Sandeep Mehta as Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court,[2]
  • Justice Sonia G Gokani as Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, [3]and
  1. Justice Jaswant Singh as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court.[4]

 A notification to this effect was also  published on the website of Ministry of Law and Justice. The notification stated :-

“ In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint, Justice N Kotiswar Singh as Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court,

 Justice Sandeep Mehta as Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court,

 Justice Sonia G Gokani as Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court and

Justice Jaswant Singh as Chief Justice of Tripura High Court

 with effect from the date she/he assumes charge of there offices.”

And all justice was recommened  by the Supreme court Collegium system.

What is collegium system :-

In India Supreme Court  are  those   court which owns the title of the country  most Powerful Court, has been renowned because of its power and status. During 1990s, Supreme Court has been convened in the primacy of Collegium  System for the process of Judicial appointments which has led to the expansion of the Judicial Review Powers. Collegium system is a system which is being followed in India for the appointment of Judges in the courts. This is a system in which beside the Chief Justice of India, four other senior-most judges are present whose work is to appoint the judges of both High Court and Supreme Court. Also, they handle the work which is required in the transfer of Chief Justices and of Judges of High Court and Supreme Court

But Political and Judicial history of India clears it that there have always been a struggle and competition between the Executive and Judiciary bodies. They have always been influenced politically which in further destroys the main foundation of revealing the Justice. It is believed that if this Collegium system works efficiently without any influence of politics in the process of appointing and transferring the judges then this will not be less than a miracle because this body comprises the wisest person in it, who are none other than senior-most Judges of Supreme Court and Chief Justice of India.

Composition of the Collegium system 

  1. A Supreme Court collegium comprises four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and it is headed by the Chief Justice of India.
  2. A High Court collegium comprises four senior-most judges and is headed by the Chief Justice of that High Court.
  3. The names that are recommended by the High Court collegium are first approved by the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court collegium, and after that, it reaches the government. 


First Judges Case :-

 Petitions were filed challenging about the practice of the appointing Additional Judges and for not filling the permanent vacancies. Their main observation was that transfer has to be done seeing the interest of the public, this should not be like a punishment but rather should benefit the person whose transfer is done. But since there was no satisfied judgment which further led to the Second Judges case.[5]

The second judge case :-

 In the judgment, it was concluded that CJI has primacy in the matter of appointment of the High Court and the Supreme Court Judges and no appointment could take place under these provisions unless the conformity with the opinion of the CJI is present. Hence this case was an attempt to keep Judiciary and Executive in their own pace and to what role they belong.[6]

Third judge case :-

Through this case, judiciary have increased their powers by prohibiting the intervention of Executive in their decisions. The question raised in this case was that whether CJI alone is enough for consultation or do CJI have to consult with other Judges also? It was held that CJI have to consult with other 4 senior-most Judges and this developed the concept of Supreme Court Collegium.[7]

Issues with the current collegium system :-

NJAC was struck down citing it to be unconstitutional and void, but that does not mean that the existing system is flawless. Even while striking down NJAC, the bench held that the system of “judges appointing judges” is not accurate and needs to be reconsidered. It has been 29 years since the establishment of the collegium system and a better alternative is yet to be found. The main issues pertaining to the collegium system are:

  • The collegium system does not provide any guidelines or criteria for the appointment of the Supreme Court judges and it increases the ambit of favouritism. 
  • In the collegium system, there are no criteria for testing the candidate or for doing a background check to establish the credibility of the candidate. The absence of an administrative body is also a reason for worry because it means that the members of the collegium system are not answerable for the selection of any of the judges.
  • The ‘Second Judges Case’ established the supremacy of the judiciary over the executive. This system disturbs the principle of check and balance. The check and balance principle is necessary because it ensures that no organ of democracy is exercising its power in an excessive manner. 
  • NJAC was struck down for its unconstitutionality, but a closer look at the collegium system tells us that even though the collegium system is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, rather it has evolved over a period of time from different landmark cases. 
  • The collegium system lacks transparency.
  • Nepotism has been often witnessed in the judiciary due to a lack of criteria for the

Conclusion :-

The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided by forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.’ There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.

The recommendations of the Collegium are binding on the Central Government; if the Collegium sends the names of the judges/lawyers to the government for the second time.

Recently, The Supreme Court collegium cleared four names for appointments in the top court, including the name of Justice Sonia G Gokani as the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court , who, if elevated now, could become the First woman judge as Acting Chief Justice. The other names cleared by the collegium include three more judges who appoint  as chief justices of high courts of india.

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 Reviewed by Drishti verma

 [1] Read notification

[2] Read notification

[3]Read notification

[4] Read notification

[5] The first judge case – S.P. Gupta v. Union of India(1981)

[6] Supreme Court Advocates-on-record Association v. Union of India(1981)

[7] re presidential reference(1981)


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