Cuttack: The Orissa High Court Bar Association has decided to mobilise its counterparts in other high courts to press for the ‘reformation in the collegium system by introducing the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to bring in transparency in appointment of judges’.
The association passed a resolution on Monday, which said, “There will be an attempt to organise an all-India meet of presidents and secretaries of all high court bar associations to discuss the suitability of the prevailing collegium system for recommendation of lawyers for appointment of judges.”
“The meet will discuss the issue of filling up of vacancy of judges in Orissa high court as well as other high courts,” the resolution said.
The NJAC Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act were first conceived by Congress to pave the way for the NJAC. The Modi government initiated action when it came to power in May 2014 and got them passed unanimously by both houses of Parliament.
The legislation was approved by the President in April 2015. But in October 2015, the Supreme Court rejected the twin laws that sought to give politicians and civil society a final say in the appointment of judges to the highest courts. The verdict restored the collegium system under which senior judges of the Supreme Court and high courts chose members of the higher judiciary.
Meanwhile, administration of justice in the Orissa high court continued to be paralysed for over a week with no let-up in the ceasework by lawyers. Court proceedings have been derailed by the boycott by the association since October 14. As things stand today, the impasse will continue for at least another 10 days, said an advocate.
Association president Gopal Krushna Mohanty said, “It has been decided that member lawyers will continue to abstain from court work till the next course of action is decided on November 1.”
On Monday, the full court of the high court granted the association time till November 4 to file a reply to the notice issued to it in a suo motu contempt case registered on “cessation of courts’ work due to continuous strike”.
The full court granted the time after the association sought time to file the reply on the basis of just a copy of order passed on October 15. The association sought supply of the reports received from the district judges and high court registry on the strike by lawyers.
On October 15, a bench comprising all 14 judges, including the chief justice, had issued notice to president and secretary of the high court bar association to show cause why steps shall not be taken for violation of Supreme Court guidelines related to strike by lawyers.
Notices were also issued to 67 other subordinate court bar associations. On Monday, lawyers appeared on behalf of several other associations and made oral submissions. Some associations responded with written replies also. The court expected written replies from all bar associations when the case is taken up on November 4, the day fixed for next hearing on the contempt case.