The Supreme Court on Monday put on hold the appointment of 12 judges in the Madras High Court and said it would look into the matter itself.
The apex court took exception to the conduct of Madras High Court judge C S Karnan who on January 9 walked into a courtroom when a special bench was hearing a PIL against the proposed appointment of new judges and said the choice of probables was not fair.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and J Chelameswar expressed concern and said, “It is a very serious matter not only for the institution but also otherwise.” The court also restrained the Madras High Court from further proceeding in the case.
The bench said the situation was a serious one, which has to be tackled in the apex court by a three-judge bench.
Last week, judge Karnan took everyone by surprise when he entered the courtroom, where the hearing of the PIL was in progress, and said, “The selection is unfair. I am also a part of the judiciary. I want to file an affidavit in my own name. Please take note of it.”
Agreeing with the contention of Attorney General G E Vahanvati that such a serious matter cannot be heard in an atmosphere of commotion and alleged indulgence of a judge, who walked into the courtroom during the hearing, the bench said, “If he (Justice Karnan) has made a comment he should be made a party. You understand the implication. Unless he is made party he can’t say anything on his conduct.”
The Attorney General questioned the High Court’s interim order, contending that the process of appointment of judges for the higher judiciary was beyond the scope of judicial review, and said appointment of judges could be taken up only if such appointment lacks eligibility criteria and the process of selection was devoid of consultation by the collegium.
The Madras High Court had moved the Supreme Court to lift a Division Bench order.
The Registrar-General of the High Court described as baseless and unfounded the allegation made by senior advocate R Gandhi who had filed the petition in the High Court.
It was alleged that persons who had no independent practice figured in the list of 10 names from the Bar and that the High Court collegium of judges headed by the Chief Justice had not carried out effective consultations. The other two names are from the subordinate judiciary.
The High Court in its appeal before the apex court contended that the interim order amounted to interference in recommendatory process of appointments made by the collegium and it would set a bad precedent and cause consternation in the functioning of the judiciary, rather than working to its advantage.
(With PTI inputs)
'Make Justice Karnan party to case'
Stating that the issue of judges’ appointment could not be decided by the Madras High Court in an atmosphere of commotion and alleged indulgence of a judge who walked in to the courtroom during the hearing, the SC said, “If he (Justice Karnan) has made a comment he should be made a party. You understand the implication. Unless he is made party he can’t say anything on his conduct.”