Judge sues state supreme court over right to hear death penalty cases

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The decisions taken by the collegium would be uploaded on the website of the apex court.

How judges are appointed or transferred by the senior most Supreme Court judges - and their reasons - will be open to the public for the first time in history.

Over 24 years after a seven-Judge bench of the Supreme Court in the Second Judges' Case directed that a collegiums of judges would make recommendations to the President with regard to appointment and transfer of members of the superior judiciary, the Supreme Court collegium finally chose to put in public domain collegium recommendations sent by it to the government. The six recommended names are: S Ramathilagam, chief judge, Puducherry; R Tharani, principal district judge, Madurai; P Rajamanickam, registrar (judicial), Madras high court; T Krishnaveni, chairman, per manent lok adalat, Madurai; A Zakir Hussain, additional chief metropolitan magistrate, Egmore, Chennai; R Pongiappan, principal district judge, Coimbatore; and R Hemalatha, district judge, Karur.

Details are now available online under the tag "Collegium Resolutions".

If approved, the total number of Kerala High Court judges will be 39 with Annie John becoming the fifth woman judge.

"The Resolution is passed to ensure transparency and yet maintain confidentiality in the Collegium system", the resolution, adopted on October 3, said.

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The top court collegium had on October 3 decided to make public the information on the recommendation for the appointment, elevation and the transfer of judges to the High Courts and to itself.

About three decades after it came into existence, this paradigm shift within the collegium, critcised for its opaque mode of functioning while recommending judicial appointments, came after the recent public furore over the resignation of Karnataka HC judge Justice Jayant Patel shortly after his transfer to the Allahabad HC. But critics of the Collegium system have pointed out that this was not adhered to very strictly.

He was the lone dissenter in the October 2015 judgment quashing National Judicial Appointments Commission, a selection process which envisaged giving the executive a major say in the judges appointment process, delivered by a five-judge Constitution bench.

"Judge Griffen has never made a public statement that has committed him to rule for or against any party in any case before him involving the death penalty", the lawsuit declares, noting that he even dismissed a case brought by nine death-row inmates challenging the constitutionality of their method of execution. Justice Chandrachud said there was a lot of criticism on carrying out death sentence by administering lethal injection.

He also said that "in his personal life and his capacity as a pastor", he has expressed his personal religious and moral views on the death penalty, and that he has participated in prayer vigils as a means of exercising his religious expression. "In other words, this may include the right of a dying man to also die with dignity when his life is ebbing out", it added.

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