ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Four Transfers and One Saving Grace

The controversies over the transfers of judges have brought the collegium’s credibility to a nadir in recent times. The absence of proper justification for its decisions, especially given the allegations of government interference, have only served to show why lack of transparency is harmful. In this context, the decision to discuss and debate allegations against nominee judges is a small but welcome step.

In the recent past, the Supreme Court collegium has been buffeted by multiple controversies over the transfer of high court judges, causing questions to be raised about its independence and fairness. These controversies relate to the murky circumstances surrounding the transfers of four high court judges, recalling the dark days of the Emergency when 16 judges were transferred out of their home states for having delivered judgments against the union government (Baxi 1980: 198). Whereas the reasons for Emergency-era transfers, even if not shown on official papers, were fairly clear, the reasons for the present transfers have given rise to much speculation, with opacity only leading to more doubt about the collegium’s independence
and fairness.

In this column, I discuss the four transfers in some detail, pointing out how the collegium has no one but itself to blame for the falling faith in its functioning. The widespread dissatisfaction with the collegium’s functioning, however, does not seem to have gone entirely unnoticed by the collegium itself. I intend to also discuss a recent practice initiated by it that suggests, perhaps, that the collegium might be willing to learn and change.

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Updated On : 19th Oct, 2019

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