Supreme Court Registry Refuses Petition to abolish the Collegium system

Supreme Court Registry Refuses Petition to abolish the Collegium system


The Supreme Court Registry rejected a petition seeking to abolish the Collegium system of judicial appointments and reinstate the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).

  • The Registry aims to prevent a “needless waste of judicial time and energy”.

GS-02 (Polity)

Key Highlights:

  • Collegium System Upheld, NJAC Struck Down: The order highlights that while the Collegium system has been upheld, the NJAC, which involved the government in judicial appointments, was struck down by a Constitution Bench in October 2015.
  • Review Plea Dismissed: A review plea against the judgment upholding the Collegium system and striking down the NJAC was dismissed by the court in 2018, indicating a finality to the matter.
  • Public Interest Concerns: The order emphasizes that repeat litigation on settled matters is not in the public’s best interest, suggesting that the petitioner’s motives might be questionable.
  • Registrar’s Authority to Decline Petition: The Registrar invoked the Supreme Court Rules, 2013, to refuse the petition, stating that it lacked a reasonable cause or contained frivolous or scandalous matter. The petitioner has the option to appeal to the court within 15 days.

What is Collegium System and How Has It Developed?


  • The Collegium system governs the appointment and transfer of judges, evolving primarily through judgments of the Supreme Court rather than legislative enactment or constitutional provisions.

Evolution of the System:

  • First Judges Case (1981): This case established that while the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) regarding judicial appointments and transfers holds “primacy,” it can be overridden with “cogent reasons,” giving the Executive an upper hand over the Judiciary in appointments for the subsequent 12 years.
  • Second Judges Case (1993): In this case, the Supreme Court introduced the Collegium system, interpreting “consultation” as “concurrence,” emphasizing that decisions are institutional, not individual, involving the CJI and the two senior-most judges.
  • Third Judges Case (1998): Responding to a Presidential reference under Article 143, the Supreme Court expanded the Collegium to a five-member body, including the CJI and four senior-most judges.

Leadership of the Collegium System:

  • The Supreme Court collegium is chaired by the CJI, with four other senior-most judges, while a High Court collegium is led by the incumbent Chief Justice and two other senior-most judges.

The Process of Judicial Appointments:

  • Appointment of CJI: The President appoints the CJI and other Supreme Court judges, with the outgoing CJI recommending the successor, typically based on seniority.
  • For Supreme Court Judges: The proposal for Supreme Court judges originates from the CJI, who consults the Collegium members and the senior-most judge of the relevant High Court, with all opinions documented.
  • The Collegium forwards the recommendation to the Law Minister, who advises the Prime Minister for presidential appointment.

Appointment of High Court Chief Justices:

  • Chief Justices of High Courts are appointed following a policy of selecting from outside the respective States, with the Collegium deciding on the elevation.
  • High Court judges are recommended by a Collegium comprising the CJI and two senior-most judges, with the outgoing Chief Justice initiating the proposal in consultation with colleagues. The recommendation is then forwarded to the Chief Minister for advice to the Governor, who sends it to the Union Law Minister for further action.