Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

SC cites adverse IB reports to reject 3 HC judge-aspirants

Now judge appointments and transfers by Supreme Court will be made open to public Now judge appointments and transfers by Supreme Court will be made open to public
Christy Curtis | 08 October, 2017, 00:31

IN an unprecedented decision, the Supreme Court collegium has chose to put in public domain all its recommendations for the appointment, elevation and transfer of judges to various high courts and the top court from now onwards.

The collegium has decided that it will also make public the reasons for recommending the names for the appointment of judges to the high courts and elevation to itself, as well as the reasons for not recommending the names of suggested candidates for appointment as judges to the high courts.

In the lawsuit, Griffen calls the high court's decision "unconstitutional", and alleges that the seven high court justices, all white, deprived Griffen's "rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion and religious exercise that are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States".

About three decades after it came into existence, this paradigm shift within the collegium, critcised for its opaque mode of functioning while recommending judicial appointments, came after the recent public furore over the resignation of Karnataka HC judge Justice Jayant Patel shortly after his transfer to the Allahabad HC.

In stripping Griffen of his authority to preside over death-penalty cases, the Supreme Court said: "To protect the integrity of the judicial system, this court has a duty to ensure that all are given a fair and impartial tribunal".

He had not only upheld the NJAC law, passed by Parliament, but had also found the collegium system of appointments lacking in transparency and effectiveness. Standing by his point, Justice Chelameswar refused to participate in the collegium meetings unless minutes of the meeting were recorded.

Subsequently, however, he had joined the rest in the consequential judgment on the collegium because it sought to improve its system.

The lawyer also referred to various apex court judgements in which the practise of hanging a death row convict has been assailed.

"Judge Griffen has never made a public statement that has committed him to rule for or against any party in any case before him involving the death penalty", the lawsuit declares, noting that he even dismissed a case brought by nine death-row inmates challenging the constitutionality of their method of execution. The Supreme Court said it was conscious that it had earlier upheld the validity of carrying out the death sentence by hanging. Section 354 of the CrPC provides for execution of death sentence by hanging.

The petition said in Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab (1996), the SC had held that 'the right to life, including the right to live with human dignity, would mean the existence of such a right up to the end of natural life.

In Thursday's federal filing, however, Griffen said he has been barred for life from presiding over any death penalty cases just for exercising his First Amendment right "to pray silently on (my) time". In other words, the executive retained its decisive role. In case of intravenous lethal injection, it is all over in 5 minutes.

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