There is heartburn and resentment in the bar over the recent selection of judges to the Madras High Court. Advocates are not ecstatic over the eight new judges, of whom six are from the bar.
The reason is two of them - P N Prakash and S Vaidyanathan, are not sons of the soil but hail from neighbouring Kerala. “Is there a dearth of talent in the state,” is the common refrain in the court campus.
Against the sanctioned strength of 60 judges, there is a vacancy of 18 judges in the Madras High Court bench now. The latest judge to retire was Justice T Sudanthiram, who attained superannuation last week.
The Madras HC collegium has originally recommended 15 names to fill up the vacancies. However, the Supreme Court collegium has cleared the names of eight persons only, last week. The campaign by the legal fraternity against some has apparently forced the SC collegium to ignore the rest.
In fact, the Madras High Court Advocates Association was totally against all the 15 names. It had sent several representations to the Chief Justice of India and the collegium to reconsider the names. “All the 15 do not measure up to the standards,” the association had stated.
Even as some described this as a partial victory for the campaign to ensure more transparency in the selection process of judges, others were sore over the duo from Kerala getting selected.
Advocate K Muthuramalingam, who has of-late been staging various agitations to press for transparency in judicial appointments, contended that Prakash and Vaidyanathan from Kerala, should not be appointed as judges here. “There is no need to select persons from outside Tamil Nadu. There is no dearth of suitable candidates in the State. There are a number of competent and talented advocates,” he argues and warned of holding an agitation during lunch recess on August 22.
Of the other six, two are from service viz., G Chockalingam, who was the Registrar-General of the Madras High Court till recently. Now he is the Principal Sessions Judge in Chennai. The other one is VS Ravi, a district judge. From among those selected from the the bar VM Velumani and Pushpa Sathyanarayanan are woman advocates. The other two men from the Bar are R Mahadevan and K Kalyanasundaram.
Now the list is pending before the Union Law Ministry. After approval of the names, it will be forwarded to the President for his signature, and the process might take a couple of months.