In a very retrograde and questionable move the Supreme Court so abruptly and without prior notice or warning has suddenly stopped uploading the resolutions of its collegium recommending High Court and Supreme Court judges for appointment and transfers. From October 2017, the resolutions put up on the Supreme Court website gave brief details on the procedure by which nominees were recommended or rejected by the collegium. This allowed some clarity into a method that has been time and again severely criticized for its lack of transparency and sheer arbitrariness.
It is unclear as to why this sudden move has occurred, as no resolution of the collegium has been uploaded stating that the practice of making public the resolutions of the collegium will be stopped. It is all the more legally distrustful since the practice was started as a result of the collegium itself resolving to make its resolutions public.
At a time when the collegium has come under increasing pressure from all quarters over some of its very contentious decisions, now to simply refuse to disclose any further information about its decisions smacks of absolute institutional spinelessness. Worse still the country will view this backward move with suspicion and disappointment that the highest court in the land may have surrendered its own good practices of transparency as a result of external influence or because they have something to hide. This will erode the faith of people in the judiciary.
An effective judiciary guarantees fairness in judicial processes and transparency.Any argument that transparency will undermine independence is not valid as the public has the right to know as much as possible without infringing on privacy, about those who sit in judgement on their fate. The public must be confident that the judiciary is beyond reproach. Transparency is a fundamental component of judicial independence. We can only assure this independence if we have relevant information about the judiciary and its performance.
As an Advocate, I am extremely pained to have to candidly comment on our nation’s highest Court but I would have had to bear the guilt of remaining a silent spectator to what is obviously intrinsically wrong with the Judiciary at the highest level casting a gloom and doom on what has been perceived as the common man’s last hope for Justice.