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Is Collegium System Necessary For An Independent Judiciary?

"The Judiciary Was To Be An Arm Of The Social Revolution Upholding Equality That Indians Had Longed For."

Judiciary is one of the most important organs of government. Without Judiciary, there cannot be the application of the concept of 'CHECK AND BALANCE'. We know that the Independence of Judiciary is one of the salient features of the Indian Constitution. The power of judicial review comes out from the Independence of Judiciary.

Judiciary has been classified under two categories:
  1. Union Judiciary
  2. State Judiciary

Composition Of Supreme Court
Constitutional Provision:
Article-124(1): - Chief Justice of India + Seven other Judges.

But Parliament may prescribe a larger number of judges appointed in the Supreme Court other than the Chief Justice. Time to time changes have been brought regarding number of judges by the Parliament. Therefore, after the enforcement of The Supreme Court (number of judges) Amendment Act, 2019 increased the number of judges to 33 + 1 Chief Justice.

So, at present time, the number of judges in Supreme Court is 34.
  1. Part V, Chapter Iv Of Indian Constitution
  2. Part Vi, Chapter V Of Indian Constitution

What Is Meant By An Independent Judiciary:

The Independence of Judiciary means the following things:

  • The other organs of the government like the executive and the legislature must not restrain the functioning of the judiciary in such a way that is unable to do justice.
  • The organs of government should not interfere with the decision of the Judiciary.
  • Judges must be able to perform their functions without fear or favour.
  • In India, the Independence of Judiciary has been incorporated from the American constitution.
  • Independence of judiciary does not imply arbitrariness or absence of accountability.

What is the Collegium System?

The collegium system of Supreme Court is one of the very important topics in understanding the appointment of Supreme Court judges in India. Collegium system of Supreme Court is headed by:
  1. Chief Justice of India.
  2. Four other senior most Judges.

Appointment of Judges of Supreme Court:

  • Article 124 of the Indian Constitution provides for the appointment of Chief Justice of India and other judges of Supreme Court.
  • It mentions that the Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President with the consultation of judges of Supreme Court and the High Courts as he deemed necessary (Article 124(2)).
NOTE: The recommendation of National Judicial Appointment Commission had been inserted in Article 124(2) with regard to appointment of supreme court judges but this provision was struck down in the case of:
  • Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v. Union of India
  • The age criteria has not been provided under the Indian Constitution for the appointment of supreme court judges.

Need for the Collegium System:

  • The Collegium system was introduced for strengthening and improving the appointment process. Collegium system was introduced to ensure that the opinion of the Chief Justice is not merely his individual opinion but an opinion formed collectively by a body of people at the apex level of judiciary.
  • Collegium System is necessary to preserve the democracy and to maintain the Independence of Judiciary because it is one of the part of the Basic Structure of Indian Constitution and secures Rule of Law.
  • In Re Presidential Reference case, The Supreme Court has clarified that the Collegium System would consist of:
    • Chief Justice of India and 4 most senior Judges, in case of appointment to the Supreme Court.
    • Chief Justice of India and 2 most senior judges in case of High Court.

Is Collegium System Necessary for the Independence of Judiciary?

  • Independence of Judiciary has been expressly provided under the Indian Constitution. Article 50 says about the separation of Judiciary from the Executive.
  • If judges of Supreme Court and high courts shall not be appointed by the collegium system, there will be a more chance of destruction of democracy.
  • The legislature will become succeed in passing arbitrary laws if Judges will be appointed by the Executive bodies.
  • The Independence of Judiciary incorporates the judicial review and the concept of "CHECK AND BALANCE" in itself. Therefore Judiciary is independent if judges are appointed by the Judicial Authorities of the court.
  • This is the only reason that the recommendation of NATIONAL JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT COMMISSION had been struck down by the apex court because, Executive was becoming more powerful and there was a great chance of corruption of power because, "Power Corrupts And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely."

Latest Judicial Pronouncements:

  • Recently, Senior Advocate Of Supreme Court, Arvind Datar said that Collegium is necessary for an independent judiciary. If the executive controls the appointment of judges, It will cause long term damage to democracy.
  • Recently, Supreme Court dismissed the plea to disclose details of the Supreme Courts collegium meeting, observing that the discussion cannot be disclosed to the public and that only the final decision of the collegiums need to be uploaded on the website.
  • Former Chief Justice Of India, UU LALIT maintained that the collegium system is indispensable for the Independence of Judiciary and Rule of Law. He said that the collegium system is perfect and does not require any fine tuning.


From the above description we came to know that:
  • An Independent Judiciary is the basic structure of the Indian Constitution and is the essence of Indian Democracy.
  • Without Independent Judiciary, we cannot get the perfect laws for the society and which will lead the arbitrariness of the legislature and the executive that will result in dictatorship.
  • Collegium System is the most important element in making the judiciary independent, strong and powerful.

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