Another turn to judiciary, executive standoff
In another turn to the standoff between the judiciary and the executive over the issue of appointment of judges to higher judiciary, the government has refused to submit its new draft of the memorandum of procedure (MOP) to the Supreme Court. With this, those selected for the high courts and the Supreme Court may have to wait till the MOP issue is settled.
Narada News had reported earlier that the selection of a few chief justices of various high courts to be elevated to the Supreme Court may lead to a new conflict on the issue. This is what exactly has happened with the Union of India refusing to submit a copy of the draft memorandum of procedure.
After the Supreme Court declared the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) “unconstitutional”, the government came out with a new procedure now known as MOP, which the Centre said was to guide the appointment of judges to higher judiciary, meaning thereby the Supreme Court and all High Courts throughout the country. The Parliamentary committee on Law and Personnel was also (maybe still) examining vacancies in the Supreme Court and high courts throughout the country. It is said to be the “work is in progress.” Even to this committee, the draft MOP is not made available. However, a copy of the MoP is available with the department of Justice which too declined to share a copy of MOP with the department-related parliamentary committee.
However, the parliamentary committee is examining the issue of inordinate delay in filling up vacancies in the Supreme Court and the HCs. The department of justice is understood to have replied that the Memorandum of Procedure (MOP of appointing and elevating judges) are two MOPs: one dealing with the elevation to the Supreme Court and the other with various High Courts of the country. Both are understood to be under finalization and the CJI, too, is understood to be in consultation. The department of justice has said that both the MOPs would be made available to the parliamentary standing committee at an “appropriate time”.
Earlier the central government had handed over a revised MOP to the CJI on August 3 this year. But the CJI objected to the proposal that the government can reject a candidate. The government is also understood to have said that once a name is rejected, the same name could not be sent again. This is opposite to a presidential proclamation which can be sent back only once. The second time if the same goes to the President he has to sign on the dotted lines. The CJI may also be reduced to the rubber stamp like the President who can reject a cabinet resolution only once. If the same is sent again by the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, he has no choice but to sign and put his hand and seal. Now it depends on the CJI whether the same would happen to the judiciary.