Anup Surendranth, Aparna Chandra and Suchindran Baskar Narayan write for the Indian Express. They argue that the manner and context in which the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation on the appointment of judges has been treated by the executive poses a threat to the independence of the judiciary.
The appointment of Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court should have been a reason for unmitigated celebration. She will become only the seventh woman in the history of independent India to be appointed as a judge of the country’s highest court. The momentous nature of this appointment cannot be overstated given the under-representation of women in all aspects of public life in India. Instead, this moment has now become about whether the SC has the will and conviction to forestall this government’s creeping and forceful assault on its powers.
The government’s actions come at a time when there is a sense of crisis surrounding the relationship between the executive and the judiciary. For over three months, the government sat on a composite recommendation to appoint Indu Malhotra and K M Joseph, and chose to act only after very public expressions of discomfort by senior SC judges. After Justice Joseph struck down the imposition of the president’s rule in Uttarakhand in April 2016, the government also exercised “pocket veto” for nearly two years by ignoring the collegium’s recommendation to transfer Justice Joseph to the Andhra Pradesh high court as its chief justice. This is also the government that returned the collegium’s recommendation to appoint Gopal Subramanium as a judge. Subramanium notably was amicus curie in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. These events should inform any scrutiny of the government’s response to the collegium’s recommendation elevating Justice Joseph. (Read More)