SC Reprimands Chennai Bar, Condemns Conduct of Judge

Judicial review is permissible on assessment of eligibility, not suitability: Supreme Court

Published: 06th March 2014 09:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2014 09:19 AM   |  A+A-

The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Chennai Bar for filing a petition against the recommendation for appointment of judges to the Madras High Court and disapproved of the conduct of a HC judge.

The court said, the conduct of Justice CS Karnan, who had on January 9 walked in as a Special Bench of the HC was hearing the matter, raised a negative murmur about maintenance of propriety in judicial proceedings. “The sudden unfamiliar incident made us fume inwardly on this raw, unconventional protest that was unexpected, uncharitable and ungenerous and to say the least, it was indecorous,” said an SC Bench comprising justices BS Chauhan, J Chelameswar and MY Eqbal.

Expressing concern over the petition seeking recall of the 12 names recommended by the collegium of the HC, the Bench said, “Judicial review is permissible only on assessment of eligibility and not on suitability. It is not a case where the writ petitioners could not wait till the maturity of the cause.”

On the Justice Karnan incident, the Bench said, “In ordinary life, such incidents are reviewed with benevolence or generosity but here we are concerned with a larger Constitutional issue of the justiciability of the cause.”

“It is said that immense dignity is expected, and weaknesses or personal notions should not be exposed so as to affect judicial proceedings,” the Bench said.

The Bench referred to its previous judgment to suggest that even after the President accepts the recommendations and warrants of appointment are issued, the court is competent to quash the warrant, where the recommendations were found not possessing eligibility for elevation to the High Court as per Article 217(2).

“The petitioners could approach the Chief Justice of India or the Law Minister but instead, the petitioners adopted an unwarranted short-cut, knowing fully well that on the ground of suitability, the writ petitions were not maintainable,” the Bench said.

The HC had on January 8 and 9 passed interim orders to maintain status quo regarding the recommendation of 12 aspirants after the CJ of the Madras HC forwarded it to the SC collegium. The HC challenged the orders before the SC which on January 13 directed maintaining of status quo.

During the hearing, the Bench was informed that the SC collegium by the resolution of February 13 returned the whole list of advocates as well as judicial officers with intimation to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the Governor with an observation that the new Chief Justice of Madras High Court as and when appointed, would re-look into the matter.

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