A three-member collegium of the Supreme Court has recommended the names of 19 lawyers for appointment as judges in Madras (9), Karnataka (5), and Calcutta (5) High Courts. Following are some interesting takeaways from the collegium resolutions in this regard.
Rejected for having professional income less than minimum professional income limit
The collegium rejected the recommendation of advocate Piush Chaturvedi as judge of Calcutta High Court as it found that his average professional income is well below the prescribed minimum professional income limit.
HC Judges @ 45
The Collegium, though took note of the fact that advocate Sabyasachi Chaudhury and advocate Sakya Sen were below the prescribed minimum age limit of 45 on the date of recommendation years, approved their names for elevation. It said: “Shri Sabyasachi Chaudhury has completed 45 years of age and hence we recommend his name for elevation. In the case of Shri Sakya Sen, we approve his name for elevation in relaxation of the age criterion.”
Undertaking from a practicing relation of a recommendees not mandatory
The collegium took note of the observations of the Department of Justice raising the issue of non-receipt of undertaking by the father of advocate Ravi Krishan Kapur, who is a practicing advocate in the Calcutta High Court. As per record, this practice of requiring an undertaking from a practicing relation of a recommendee is based on mere administrative instructions and is not a mandatory requirement. In our view, such an undertaking need not be insisted upon from the recommendees, it said.
Approved despite having less number of reported / unreported judgments
The collegium also noted less number of reported / unreported judgments of advocate Arindam Mukherjee. In our view, number of reported / unreported judgments is just one of the factors and not the only factor to determine suitability of a recommendee for purpose of elevation, the collegium said.
Rejected for being aged more than 55
Name of advocate AV Radhakrishnan was rejected as had crossed the maximum age limit of 55 years prescribed for advocates recommended for elevation to the high court bench. Though now, advocate C Emalias, is aged more than 55, his name was approved, as he was well within the said prescribed age limit on the date of recommendation of the high court collegium.
Proposal for elevation deferred till verification of some adverse but unconfirmed inputs
Proposal for elevation of advocate B Pugalendhi has been deferred for the present, as the collegium wanted to get verification with regard to some adverse but unconfirmed inputs.
Governor felt some recommendees are inefficient, but did not name them
The collegium observed that Governor of Karnataka has conveyed that some of the candidates do not meet the requirement of efficiency in their performance, but said the Governor has not specified the names of such recommendees and the basis for forming such an opinion. The collegium said: “We are in agreement with the view of the Governor that the persons recommended may be appointed only after a thorough objective assessment of their performance and integrity. In this regard, it need not be emphasized that assessment of performance of the persons recommended is done objectively by the judiciary at High Court and Supreme Court level; and as far as integrity, character and conduct etc. are concerned, Intelligence Bureau, on verification, has reported that the above named recommendees enjoy a good personal and professional image and nothing adverse has come to notice against their integrity.”
Overlooks CM’s disagreement with recommended names
With regard to the disagreement conveyed by Karnataka Chief Minister who had also forwarded copies of certain communications received from bodies of advocates expressing the concern that the names recommended do not provide opportunity of representation to the cross-sections of the society on the bench of the high court, the collegium said: “He has advised that the entire proposal be returned to the High Court for reconsideration. Many other representations raising, inter alia, this issue have also been placed before us. In this regard, it is important to take note of the fact, as recorded in the Minutes dated 8th December, 2016, 11th and 13th January, 2017, the High Court Collegium has taken into account merit, experience, performance, character and conduct of the recommendees. The Collegium has recorded that it has “given adequate representation to all the sections of the society to the extent possible considering the merit of the respective candidates”. Since the High Court Collegium has already looked into and tested merit of such representations, need for any further examination thereof stands obviated.”
In a collegium meeting held on 1st November, 2017 it is resolved that professional competence, of candidates for appointment as Judges, can best be determined by the members of the higher judiciary who have the opportunity to observe his performance on a daily basis, and not by the Intelligence Bureau [IB].