Dhananjay Mahapatral, reporting for The Times of India:
…the Supreme Court collegium has finalised the memorandum of procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges to constitutional courts.
The appointment of Supreme Court judges was a heavily debated topic under previous Chief Justice T. S. Thakur, starting with the Centre’s suggestion for a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), which was struck down by the Supreme Court in October 2015.
In December 2015, a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the Central Government could amend the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges, in consultation with the CJI. The Bench also broadly suggested that amendments towards eligibility of judges, transparency in appointments and establishment of a secretariat to review appointment-related complaints be looked into.
A bone of contention related to the ‘national security’ clause that the Centre insisted on adding to the eligibility of judges for appointment, and the Secretariat. Progress has been swift since Chief Justice J. S. Khehar took over in January, and the new Collegium has now approved both items.
Finalisation of the MoP, which will be sent to the Centre for approval and adoption this week, raises hopes of speedy filling up of vacancies in HCs, which are operating at below 60% of their sanctioned strength.
Clearance of pending cases is a huge problem in India. Just last week, the Supreme Court also set out timelines for case hearing, ordering lower courts to dispense of cases more than five years’ old by the end of the year.