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Centre overlooks collegium reiteration: HC judges’ appointment delayed despite IB okay

The government has been raising concerns about various recommendations sent by the collegium even after the intelligence bureau has cleared the names and the allegations against the recommended judges is unfounded.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 13, 2019, 01.11 PM IST
Collegium recommendations are made for judges to be appointed top the Apex court and various High Courts.
NEW DELHI: Last week, the Supreme Court expressed concern over inordinate delay in appointing judges to high courts while directing the government to clear collegium recommendations in six months.

The government’s refusal to make the appointments in several cases were despite the Intelligence Bureau finding that there was nothing adverse against the candidates, and consultee judges too finding them suitable for elevation.

ET examines a few cases where the Centre is yet to clear recommendations even after reiteration:

On October 3, the Supreme Court collegium reiterated its March 25 recommendation to appoint S V Shetty as Karnataka HC judge but the law ministry returned the proposal saying “there is a complaint” of Shetty “having nexus with underworld and land mafia.” The SC collegium recorded that the allegations were not verified at any level, at any point, and the IB report said that he enjoyed a good personal and professional image and there was nothing adverse against his integrity. All consultee judges too found him suitable for elevation, the collegium noted. However, the appointment has not been made yet.

On October 3, the SC collegium reiterated its March 25 proposal to appoint advocate MI Arun as a Karnataka HC judge. The government requested the collegium to reconsider the recommendation saying there was a complaint that he did not have a “clean and transparent professional career and indulges in corrupt practices.” The collegium, however, recorded that the allegations were not verified at any level, at any point. The IB report recorded Arun enjoyed a good personal and professional image and there was nothing adverse against his integrity. The appointment is yet to happen despite the reiteration.

On October 15, the collegium reiterated for the third time the appointment of PK Bhat to the Karnataka HC “be processed most expeditiously.” The original proposal was initiated and processed by the collegium on February 8, 2016, but the appointment is yet to happen

The collegium on February 12 reiterated its recommendation for PV Kunhikrishnan for the Kerala HC saying it has seen the “material on the basis of which the proposal… was referred back for reconsideration. As there is no fresh material in the file referred back…the collegium is of the considered view that PV Kunhikrishnan deserves to be elevated to the high court bench.”

In its report on MG Shukure and S Indresh, recommended for the Karnataka HC, IB recorded that both enjoyed good personal and professional image and nothing adverse came to its notice against their integrity. However, the law ministry has not cleared their appointments.

On October 3, the collegium reiterated its proposal on Shukure after the government claimed he had “limited practice in the high court.” The reiteration countered “his average professional income is Rs.16.89 lakh, adding all consultee judges found him suitable for elevation”. Indresh’s reiteration too on the same date is pending with the government.

The collegium said that the request for reconsidering the proposal on Indresh was not tenable as IB report recorded “he enjoys a good personal and professional image and nothing adverse came to notice against his integrity.”

The collegium found no merit in observations made by the law ministry in advocate C Emalias of the Madras HC either. While reiterating his name on August 1, 2018, the collegium recorded “we do not find any prima facie substance and hence we are not persuaded to reconsider the matter. The complaints placed in the file being devoid of merit, deserve to be ignored. The collegium resolves to reiterate its recommendation.”

In 2017, SC Collegium, while making recommendation of Emalias along with other advocates, observed that Intelligence Bureau had found nothing adverse against their integrity.

And that "the allegations made therein are frivolous and / or malicious in nature and appear to have been made with an ulterior motive to put spoke in the wheel of the judicial appointment process. In our considered opinion, hardly any credence can be attached to such complaints, particularly in the light of positive material regarding suitability of the recommendees, whose names are being approved by this Collegium."

The proposal was, however, given a quiet burial

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