Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - III (General Studies – II) - 14 September 2019

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam

UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-III: General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Q. The Supreme Court Collegium System has recently made recommendations to fill vacancies in the Supreme Court and eight High Courts across the country. What do you understand by the Collegium System ? Critically analyze the efficiency of the collegium system in the independent working of the judiciary. (250 words)

Model Answer:

  • Why in News?
  • Introduction: What is Collegium System?
  • Positives of the Collegium System
  • Criticisms of the collegium System
  • Efficiency of the Collegium System
  • Conclusion

Why in News?

It has become a routine that the government and the Supreme Court collegium disagree on recommendations for judicial appointments frequently these days. The advisability of retaining the collegium system of appointments is a major systemic concern for the Indian Judicial system.

Introduction: What is Collegium System?

The Collegium System has no mention in the Constitution of India or in its successive amendments. The collegium system has its genesis in a series of three judgments that is clubbed together as the “Three Judges Cases”.

The Collegium System is a, forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, under which appointments and elevation of judges and lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided.

Positives of the Collegium System:

  • The Collegium System minimizes the executive interference in the dispensation of the justice system. It keeps the Judiciary separate from the Executive.
  • As the Collegium is constituted by the senior most judges, so we can say that only the capable and competent to become a judge of the court. It prohibits to political interference.
  • The Collegium System gives importance to experience and administrative vision.
  • Quality is maintained in selection.

Criticisms of the collegium System:

  • The Supreme Court Bar Association has blamed it for creating a “give-and-take” culture, creating a rift between the haves and have-nots.
  • The Central government has criticized it saying it has created an imperium in imperio (empire within an empire) within the Supreme Court.
  • It failed to keep pace with the stalled vacancies as the vacancies in both the Supreme Court and the High Courts are high.
  • The 214th Law Commission has also criticized the Collegium System on the ground that it was not mentioned in the Constitution of India. The Constitution makers provided for article 124(2) and article 217 for the appointment of judges. Thus, the makers focused on the independence of the judiciary.
  • The Law Commission has also criticized the collegium system on the ground of spreading nepotism and personal patronage during the appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
  • The Collegium System is very opaque because it lacks a written manual for functioning, absence of selection criteria, arbitrary reversal of decisions already taken, and selective publication of records of meetings.
  • The procedure of selection of judges is not known and on many cases appointments made are full of biases of self-selection and in-breeding.

Efficiency of the Collegium System:

The efficiency of the Collegium System has been questioned from various sections of the society. The need of the hour is to acknowledge the criticisms and make possible arrangements to improve the existing system.

Few such areas of improvement are transparency, eligibility criteria, a secretariat to assist the collegium and dealing with complaints against persons being considered for appointment.

In 2014, the Union Government passed, the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, to amend the collegium system so that the executive too has a say in the judicial appointments in the country. However, the Supreme Court has not been keen on the executive’s interference and it was struck down in 2015.


There is a need to revisit the present system of appointment of judges and to make the process more transparent and efficient which would improve the overall system of the judiciary.

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