Former judges are raising concerns over the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna to the apex court.
The 10 January resolution of the collegium named Justice Maheshwari and Justice Khanna for elevation and dropped Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Rajendra Menon, whose names had been recommended in a previous meeting on 12 December.
The collegium, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, includes the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
According to Times of India, Supreme Court Justice SK Kaul has written to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi against the decision to remove Justice Nandrajog’s name.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice RM Lodha said he was surprised that a junior judge was superseding to the Supreme Court. “The question is after Justice Nandrajog, there are two more judges, Justice Gita Mittal, the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and Justice S Ravinder Bhatt. The Karnataka High Court Judge (Maheshwari), who is from Rajasthan, was superseded six weeks ago, was not found to be, as per reports, deserving for being elevated to the Supreme Court,” he told ANI.
Retired Justice Chelameswar, who had been among the four Supreme Court judges who held a press conference last year, told The Indian Express, “This is exactly why I refused to attend the collegium meetings in 2016. I was told by legal luminaries then that I should resign and then speak. Now, I have retired, so should I speak?”
In the press conference on 12 January 2018, the then four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, including Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the now Chief Justice of India, had flagged some of the pressing problems they faced with the then CJI Dipak Misra.
Justice Kailash Gambhir, a former Delhi High Court judge, has written to President Ram Nath Kovind against the collegium’s recommendation urging the president that the credibility and independence of the judiciary be preserved and “let another historical blunder not be committed”.
In his letter, the retired judge says it would be a “black day” if there will be supersession of 32 judges who are senior to Justice Sanjiv Khanna and many of them maybe no less meritorious and men of integrity than him.
“This is appalling and outrageous that such an earth shattering decision has been taken to supersede as many as 32 judges which include many Chief Justices, casting aspersions on their intellect, merit and integrity,” the letter said.
Justice AP Shah, a former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, said the collegium’s move would have “demoralising effect on the system”.
“What has happened in this instance shows that the collegium system continues to be opaque, secretive and unaccountable. The judges deciding the NJAC case spoke of reforms, what happened to that? There are no reforms, and no move to change anything,” he said, the Express report quoted.
(With PTI inputs)