Fresh trouble brewing between executive and judiciary
A recommendation by the collegium of the Supreme Court of India may now trigger off a new row between the judiciary and the executive. This time it is the elevation of about seven high court chief justices to the Apex Court that may set the pitch for conflict.
The collegium is understood to have finalized for elevation the chief justices of Bombay High Court (Manjula Chellur), Chattisgarh High Court (Deepak Gupta), Jammu & Kashmir High Court (N N Paul Vasanthakumar), Gujarat High Court (Subhash Reddy), Rajasthan High Court (Navin Sinha), Himachal Pradesh High Court (Ahmed Mir) and Uttarakhand (K M Joseph) to the Supreme Court. However. Justice Jasti Chelameswar did not attend the collegium meeting, which finalized the names and wanted the names to be finalized by “circulation”.
It is not yet known whether Justice Chelameswar too cleared the names. However, if the majority of the collegium members have recommended a name, it is final. But the government may put a spoke in the wheel. Recently, it rejected about 40 odd names to be the judges of various high courts of India. The new memorandum of procedure for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary has not been accepted by the Apex Court.
Justice Chelameswar, a member of the collegium, has earlier taken a position that he would not attend any meeting as it is “opaque”. But the Supreme Court collegium has begun the process of filling vacant posts in the Supreme Court itself. The names were said to have been “circulated” among the members of the collegium, as Justice Chelameswar has earlier said that the names be “circulated” among the members.
There are about six vacancies in the Supreme Court at present. Further, Justice Anil R Dave would retire by November-end. Justice Dave is also a member of the collegium. CJI Thakur would retire by January 3, 2017.
Earlier the Centre has refused to clear several recommendations including the transfer of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph to Andhra Pradesh, who is now recommended to be an SC judge.
It may be pertinent to note that Justice Joseph set aside the Modi government’s decision to impose President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. Earlier, the apex court had set aside the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). It is the time a National Judicial Commission (NJC) was set up for appointments, complaints, and action against errant judges. Like many countries, the names should be announced in public forums and objections should be received by the public. The proposed NJC should comprise of a representative of the prime minister, leader of Opposition, chairman of the Rajya, Sabha, jurists and of course the CJI and other senior judges. Till it happens, this tug-of-war would continue.