SC collegium meets 6 times in 30 days

NEW DELHI: Apart from recommending and getting four Supreme Court judges, the collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, held six meetings in just 30 days to send proposals to the Centre for appointment of nine chief justices and 29 judges to various high courts.

While the larger collegium comprising CJI Gogoi and Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph, AK Sikri and SA Bobde recommended appointment of judges to the apex court and also effected transfers of 11 judges from one high court to another, the collegium of three – CJI Gogoi and Justices Lokur and Joseph – dealt with high court recommendations for appointment of HC judges from among advocates and judicial officers. The nine names recommended for appointment as HC CJs are Justice N H Patil for Bombay high court, Ramesh Ranganathan for Uttarakhand HC, A S Bopanna for Gauhati HC, DK Gupta for Calcutta HC, Vijai Kumar Bist for Sikkim HC, Govind Mathur for Allahabad HC, S K Seth for Madhya Pradesh HC, AP Sahi for Patna HC and Sanjay Karol for Tripura HC.

In contrast, the collegium headed by the CJI and comprising Justices Gogoi and Lokur had held six meetings in August and September to recommend names of 40 advocates and judicial officers to the Centre for their appointment as high court judges and sent proposals for transfers of four HC judges from one HC to another.

Between September 25 and October 31, the Allahabad HC gained the most in terms of clearing of names for appointment as HC judges by the SC collegium. If the collegium headed by then CJI Misra had cleared 17 out of 33 advocates’ names recommended by the HC collegium for appointment as judges of the Allahabad HC, the collegium headed by CJI Gogoi on October 31 cleared names of another 13 of 15 judicial officers for appointment as HC judges. Together, the Centre was told to appoint 30 judges to the HC, which has a vacancy of 76 judges against a sanctioned strength of 160.

Orissa HC, which is virtually paralysed for last two months because of lawyers’ strike protesting against alleged assault of two advocates by police, fared badly as the HC collegium’s recommendations did not stand scrutiny of the SC collegium. Of the 12 names recommended (eight advocates and four judicial officers) six months ago by the HC collegium for appointment as HC judges, the SC collegium cleared just one judicial officer.

While CJI Gogoi-led collegium mostly dealt with uncomplicated recommendations, CJI Misra-led collegium had a tough time settling recommendations for appointment of judges to HCs, which did a to and fro journey from SC to the law ministry and back.

The most difficult meeting of the collegium was on August 1, when it dealt with three of its earlier recommendations for appointment of certain advocates which had been returned by the government. One recommendation pertaining to appointment of two advocates for Allahabad HC was cleared by the SC collegium twice – on February 4, 2016 and April 4, 2016. But the Centre had returned them citing complaints and providing the collegium with evidence. Finding the evidence credible, the Supreme Court remitted the names back to the HC collegium for reconsideration.

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