NEW DELHI: Apart from brother judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul questioning the Supreme Court collegium’s criteria for cherrypicking of judges for elevation to the top court, the Centre, too, could oppose its recent recommendations on grounds of seniority and skew in regional representation.
Matters came to a head when four sitting chief justices were recommended for promotion to the Supreme Court, bypassing other senior and eligible judges.
Last week, the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi recommended the names of
Justice Hrishikesh Roy (Kerala High Court Chief Justice), Justice Ravinder Bhat (Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice), Justice V Ramasubramanian (Himachal Pradesh High Court Chief Justice) and Justice Krishna Murari (Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice).
According to the All India High Court seniority list, Justice Roy’s serial number is 45, Justice Bhat 12, Justice Ramasubramanian 42 and Justice Murari 5. Apparently, the collegium ignored several other judges senior to the four chief justices. In the case of Bhat and Ramasubramanian, the collegium even ignored judges from their parent high courts senior to them.
For example, Manipur High Court Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar, who stands at number 29 on the seniority list was ignored while picking Justice Ramasubramanian, who is way below at 42. The parent court of both of them is the Madras High Court.
If the Centre takes it up with the collegium, there could be a rerun of the last year’s tussle when the government cleared the appointment of Justice Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court while sending back Justice K M Joseph’s name for reconsideration.
At that time, the Centre had said Justice Joseph was at 42 on the seniority list and 11 chief justices of various high courts senior to him had been ignored. As a result, Justice Joseph’s elevation was delayed by over six months.