From Executive Appointment to the Collegium System: The Impact on Diversity in the Indian Supreme Court
24 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 9, 2019
There has been a national debate raging in India about the system of appointments for Supreme Court and High Court judges. At the founding of the Indian Supreme Court, the executive had primary authority over judicial appointments. In 1993, the Supreme Court created a new system of appointments known as the collegium system, whereby the Chief Justice of India and senior judges of the Supreme Court make new appointments to the Supreme Court as well as the High Courts. In 2014, Parliament amended the Constitution and passed a bill to create a commission to appoint judges, but the Indian Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional.
In this article, we ascertain whether the nature of the appointments procedure impacts the biographical and other characteristics of the judges that are eventually selected. We do this by comparing the biographical characteristics of judges appointed by the executive-appointments system (prior to 1993), on the one hand, and the judges appointed by the collegium (on or after 1993) to the Supreme Court of India.
We find that both the pre-collegium and the collegium system maintain the geographical and religious diversity of India in the candidates that are appointed. However, both have failed to account for gender diversity. In addition, the path to the Supreme Court appears to have narrowed – typically those who are appointed as judges by the collegium spend longer periods in private practice and on the bench than pre-collegium judges.
Keywords: diversity, Indian Supreme Court, judicial appointments, collegium system
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