Justice Chelameswar skips SC collegium meet citing lack of transparency

Justice J Chelameswar, one of the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, has opted out of the meetings of the collegium alleging lack of transparency in the collegium's selection process of judges.

Justice J ChelameswarJustice Chelameswar, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, has sent a communication to the Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, who heads the collegiums, expressing his disinclination to participate in the meetings of the powerful Supreme Court body.

''Such a communication has been sent. There is no reply,'' The Hindu quoted Justice Chelameswar as saying over the phone on Friday

Justice Chelameswar did not participate in the collegium's meeting on Thursday to discuss various issues, including the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP).

It may be noted that he had earlier written a dissenting note in a judgement that quashed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and the 99th constitutional amendment dissenting note in the verdict with regard to non-transparency in the collegium system of appointment.

In his dissenting judgement, which had quashed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and the 99th constitutional amendment, Justice Chelameswar had said that the collegium system of judges' appointment was "opaque and inaccessible" to the people at large and it needed "transparency".

Agency reports say Justice Chelameswar has written a letter to Chief Justice TS Thakur, expressing his inability to take part in the future meetings of the collegiums, but has not recused himself from the collegium.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Justice Chelameswar has sought recording minutes of the SC collegium's confidential meetings, which take place to discuss appointments and transfers of judges.

Reports said all the other four judges, including Justice Thakur, had assembled for the meeting on Thursday which was ultimately postponed.

The apex court judiciary and the government have been at loggerheads on the finalisation of the MoP, which deals with the procedures to be followed in the appointment of judges in high courts and the Supreme Court.

Recently the Supreme Court, while hearing a PIL, had sent out a stern message to the government over non-execution of the collegium's decision to transfer and appoint chief justices and judges of high courts.

It had warned the Centre that the court would not tolerate "logjam in judges' appointment" and would intervene to "fasten accountability" as the justice delivery system is "collapsing".