THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) yesterday released a set of criteria by which it considers judicial appointments, saying the appointment process should be "open and transparent".

The criteria should provide the public with an objective way of evaluating the work of the commission. The release of the criteria followed a "lengthy debate" at a special JSC sitting last week.

The criteria were essentially a summary of guidelines adopted in 1998 under former chief justice Ismail Mahomed, said JSC spokesman Dumisa Ntsebeza SC.

Mr Ntsebeza said in the debate both Justice Mahomed and former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson had taken a view that there was a constitutional imperative that the judiciary must reflect SA's demographics in terms of race and gender.

The criteria are divided into two categories: those in the constitution and supplementary criteria. The constitutional criteria are that applicants should be fit and proper and appropriately qualified. The JSC must also ask whether the appointment would "help to reflect the racial and gender composition of SA".

The supplementary criteria include being a person of integrity and having the necessary energy and motivation . They also include competence and experience, in technical respects but also the "capacity to give expression to the values of the constitution" and "experience in regard to values and needs of the community".

rabkinf@bdfm.co.za