Editor's note: The case of RP Luthra versus Union of India was specifically mentioned in the letter sent by four judges of the Supreme Court to the Chief Justice of India. The case pertained to appointments to the higher judiciary and the memorandum of procedure for doing so—issues which were highlighted in the press conference called by the judges on Friday. The following article details how the Supreme Court's order in the RP Luthra case played a part in the controversy which erupted on Friday.
A 2015 decision by five judges of the Supreme Court in Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v Union of India & Anr [(2016) 5 SCC 1] struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and kept in place the collegium system for the appointment of judges. Under this system, the five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court act as a collegium and appoint the judges of the higher judiciary.
They follow a procedure which involves consultation with the central and concerned state governments and this procedure is known as the Memorandum of Procedure (MOP). One of the outcomes of the NJAC case was that the MoP was to be tweaked and modified in order to take into account more recent developments, particularly keeping in mind the interest of transparency.