[Answered] Critically analyze the functioning of the Collegium system in the context of judicial transfers in India. Discuss the implications of such transfers on the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Introduction: What is the collegium system?

Body: Analyse the functioning of the collegium system and its implications on the integrity of the judiciary.

Conclusion: Way forward

The Collegium system, which involves the Chief Justice of India and a group of senior judges, plays a pivotal role in the appointment and transfer of judges in the Indian judiciary. The Collegium System has evolved through a series of judgments of the Supreme Court namely Gupta & Others v. Union of India, 1981 (First Judges Case), Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association Vs. Union of India, 1993 (Second Judges Case) and the In re Special Reference 1 of 1998 (Third Judges Case).

Functioning of the Collegium system

  • Lack of Transparency: The Collegium lacks an official selection procedure or a documented manual for its operations. The criteria used for the selection or rejection of candidates are not publicly disclosed.
  • Absence of Accountability: The practice of Judges selecting other Judges is perceived as undemocratic, as there is no mechanism for judicial accountability to the public or other branches of the State, such as the Legislature or the Executive. This absence of accountability introduces an element of potential arbitrariness in the decision-making process.
  • Judicial Criticism: Numerous retired Judges have expressed criticism regarding the functioning of the Collegium, particularly highlighting the issue of transparency & certain controversial appointments that have raised concerns within the legal community.

Implications of such transfers on the independence and integrity of the judiciary

  • Nepotism: Decisions made by the Collegium may encourage nepotism since judges may prefer appointments or transfers based on personal ties, undermining the merit-based system and raising questions about the judiciary’s objectivity.
  • Erosion of Judicial Independence: The absence of a participatory and transparent procedure could result in executive intervention since the Collegium system lacks an organized external oversight mechanism compromising the independence of the judiciary.
  • Impact on morale: Arbitrary transfers without clear reasons can impact the morale of judges, affecting their performance and commitment to their roles which results in a decline in the quality of judicial decisions and overall efficiency.
  • Erosion of public trust: Lack of transparency and accountability can result in a negative public perception of the judiciary and undermine its role as a pillar of democracy.


It is urgently necessary to make improvements to the judicial appointment system to ensure the efficient functioning of the judiciary which is possible through collaboration between the government, parliament, and judiciary.

Print Friendly and PDF