Kerala HC Dismisses Plea Against Collegium Recommendations To Elevate Five Lawyers As HC Judges [Read Judgment]
The petition had also sought a direction to the collegium to make a fresh recommendation where the ordinary lawyers who have no “Godfathers” too are considered.
The Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, dismissed a writ petition filed by two advocates challenging the High Court's recommendation to Supreme Court Collegium to elevate five lawyers as judges of the high court.
Justice Shaji P Chaly held that the writ petition is a premature one since the consultive process is yet to take place in respect of the eligibility and suitability of candidates in accordance with Article 217 of the constitution of India."The writ petition lacks bonafides, merit and truth, and is frivolous and mischievous"
Advocates CJ Joveson and Sabu had challenged elevation of five lawyers viz. advocates Viju Abraham, George Varghese, Arun VG, Gopal P, Ramesh who were reportedly proposed by the high court collegium for appointment as high court judges. Advocate Mathews Nedumpara had argued the petition before the High Court.
Advocate Nedumpara contended that selection of these lawyers for elevation as judges of this court without notifying the vacancies and calling for applications from all the eligible and/or without seeking reference from all the stake holders is discriminatory against ordinary lawyers. He also alleged that the names of lawyers who are the kith and kin of the siting and/or retired or former judges of this court or Advocate General, are proposed.
“The Supreme Court of India became the most powerful court on the planet. The judges and the Senior Lawyers, with much respect, used their clout to get their kith and kin and juniors appointed as the judges of the High Court at the earliest stage which is an assurance to even elevation to the Supreme Court, seniority being considered to be sacrosanct. The result is shocking: a judiciary which judges like Justice Krishna Iyer lamented to be the province of the elite, because, with much respect, it is portrayed more as an exclusive club of the dynasties of the Bar and the Bench,” the petition read.
Following were the reliefs sought in the writ petition:
- Declare that the reported decision of the Collegium of the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala, recommending the elevation of the respondents 6 to 10 as the judges of Hon’ble High Court of Kerala is Null and Void being vitiated by extraneous and irrelevant considerations, namely, kinship, and affinity, the respondents being the Kith and Kin of the former judges of the court, so too of the Advocate General, rather than on merits;
- Declare that Union of India and the Collegium of the Supreme Court of India is bound to enforce the policy of 1/3rd Judges of the High Courts to be from other high courts and the initial appointment to be a High Court other than that of the parent high court of the appointee concerned;
- To declare that the interest of transparency and fairness requires that the vacancies in the august office of the judge of the High Court of Kerala and for that matter of every High Court in this country is liable to be notified, inviting applications from all eligible candidates, so too the recommendations and references from all stake holders and that an open and transparent selection and appointment be made, rendering any failure thereof to render the selection and appointment void-ab-initio; and
- To issue a writ of prohibition restraining and prohibiting the Union of India, so too the Collegium of the Supreme Court of India from acting upon the recommendations of the Collegium of the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala in so far as the elevation of respondents 6-10 are concerned and further to direct the Collegium to make a fresh recommendation where the ordinary lawyers who have no “Godfathers” too are considered.
The petition alleged that that Advocate Viju Abraham, was junior to Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph and is the son-in-law of Justice Thomas P Joseph, former Kerala High Court judge; Advocate George Varghese was junior to Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan, Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court; Advocate Arun VG is cousin of Justice Anu Sivaraman of Kerala High Court; Advocate Gopal P is immediate relative of Justice KS Radhakrishnan, former SC judge; and Advocate Ramesh is son-in-law of the Kerala Advocate General, Sri Sudhakara Prasad.Read the Judgment Here