Collegium decisions should remain secret: Delhi HC

The court highlighted that the collegium’s decisions are based on private information concerning the individuals, which necessitates maintaining their confidentiality.
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For representation purposeFile photo

NEW DELHI: In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court has emphasised that the Supreme Court collegium’s reasons for rejecting names recommended by the High Court collegium for judgeship should remain confidential.

The Division Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, asserted that making such reasons public would harm the interests of the candidates involved.

The court highlighted that the collegium’s decisions are based on private information concerning the individuals, which necessitates maintaining their confidentiality.

The observations were made during the dismissal of an appeal filed by Rakesh Kumar Gupta who had initially approached a single-judge bench of the High Court, seeking a directive for the Supreme Court to disclose the reasons behind rejecting the High Court collegium’s recommendations.

The single-judge bench had dismissed his petition and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on him, prompting Gupta to appeal to the Division Bench.

Gupta, who appeared in person, told the bench that the rejection by the top court of the recommendations made by the HC regarding elevation of judges to the HC was about 35.29 per cent in 2023, whereas in the year 2021, the rejection rate was only 4.38 per cent.

He stated that the Supreme Court Collegium should provide reasons to the HC Collegium for rejecting its recommendations.

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“The Supreme Court has repeatedly drawn a distinction between eligibility and suitability of a person to be appointed as a Judge of the High Court. Eligibility is an objective factor which is determined by applying the parameters or qualifications whereas, fitness and suitability of a person is evaluated in the consultative process,” the High Court said.

The court further said that the appellant’s contention regarding “rejection” by the SC is misconceived as the appellant has failed to understand that appointment of a judge to the HC or SC is an integrated, consultative and non-adversarial process, which cannot be challenged in a court of law except on the ground of want of consultation with the named constitutional functionaries or lack of any condition of eligibility in the case of an appointment, or of a transfer being made without the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India.

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