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Bizarre Stalemate Between Centre, CJI Dipak Misra on Finalising Procedure for Judges' Appointments

While the central government claims the MoP is pending at the end of the CJI and the Collegium, the latter believes it has nothing more to do after having sent its finalised proposal on March 13, 2017.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:May 28, 2018, 5:05 PM IST
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Bizarre Stalemate Between Centre, CJI Dipak Misra on Finalising Procedure for Judges' Appointments
File image of the Supreme Court building. (PTI)
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New Delhi: For the last fourteen months, a bizarre reason is holding up the finalisation for the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) - the guidebook to appoint judges in the Supreme Court and high courts.

While the central government claims the MoP is pending at the end of the Chief Justice of India and the Collegium, the latter believes it has nothing more to do after having sent its finalised proposal on March 13, 2017.

And in between the two arguments lies a letter written by the government in July 2017 - not to the CJI but to the Registrar General of the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, the government wrote to the CJI twice about the proposed changes in the MoP but its last communication was sent to the Registrar General.

While the reasons remain unknown why the government chose to write to the Registrar General and not to the CJI like it always did in the past, the CJI, according to the sources, has not felt the need to respond to a letter addressed to an official in the Court registry.

And this stalemate prolongs the uncertainty over finalising the procedure on appointments.

The government had written to the CJI in in March 2016 and in August 2016 when it wanted certain modifications in the draft MoP. The CJI finally sent the draft MoP on March 13, 2017, and clarified this was the final version but the government kept sitting on it.

Meanwhile, in its judgment convicting CS Karnan, then a sitting high court judge, of contempt charges, two judges on the seven-judge bench pressed the need to revisit the system to appoint judges.

Making this judgment of July 2017 the basis of its new letter, the government asked for further modifications in the draft MoP sent by the CJI’s office in March that year.

But this new letter dated July 11, 2017 was not sent to the CJI or the CJI’s office. It was shot to the Registrar General.

Sources in the Supreme Court tell CNN-News18 that CJI Dipak Misra has been of the opinion that the MoP has already been finalised at the end of the judiciary.

The CJI has been of the view that he or his office does not need to reply to a letter written to an official of the registry.

"According to the CJI, there is nothing that he or the other judges in the Collegium need to do anything about the government's letter since the CJI’s office is not supposed to respond to every letter by the government to the registry officials," sources said.

Therefore, while the government keeps claiming at every forum, including the Parliament, that the Supreme Court and the CJI need to reply to its latest communication, the CJI’s office has not even considered this letter to be worthy of a reply because it has been sent to a non-competent and improper official.

And the MoP seems to have lost its way between the addresses of the correspondence.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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