3 May 2023 3:41 AM GMT
The Supreme Court Collegium on May 2 recommended the elevation of Advocate Firdosh Phiroze Pooniwalla as a judge of the Bombay High Court, overruling the objection raised by the Intelligence Bureau that his senior has written an article in 2020 expressing concerns over the state of freedom of speech and expression in the country.The Collegium stated that the article written by his senior has...
The Supreme Court Collegium on May 2 recommended the elevation of Advocate Firdosh Phiroze Pooniwalla as a judge of the Bombay High Court, overruling the objection raised by the Intelligence Bureau that his senior has written an article in 2020 expressing concerns over the state of freedom of speech and expression in the country.
The Collegium stated that the article written by his senior has no bearing on his own competence, ability or credentials.
"The Intelligence Bureau has, however flagged that Shri Pooniwalla had earlier worked under an advocate. It is reported that the said advocate has written an article in a publication in 2020 expressing concerns over the alleged lack of freedom of speech/expression in the country in the last 5-6 years. The views which have been expressed by a former senior of Shri Pooniwalla have no bearing on his own competence, ability or credentials for appointment as a Judge of the High Court of Bombay", the resolution stated.
The Collegium also stated that there is no employer-employee relationship between a junior and a senior.
"The Collegium notes that Shri Pooniwalla and his former senior practise on the Original side of the High Court of Bombay. Junior counsel associated with the chamber of a senior on the Original side are not engaged in a relationship of employer-employee with their senior. While juniors are associated with the chamber, they are free to do their own work and for all the intents and purposes, are entitled to independent legal practice. No adverse comments reflecting on the suitability of the candidate for elevation", read the resolution passed by the collegium.
The Collegium comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph also noted that the Intelligence Bureau has stated in its report that he has a good personal and professional image and that nothing adverse has come to notice regarding his integrity and that he is not associated with any political party. The consultee-judges have opined that he is suitable for elevation.
"No adverse comments reflecting on the suitability of the candidate for elevation have been made in the file. The candidate has an extensive practice at the Bar and is specialized in commercial law. The candidate professes Parsi Zoroastrianism and belongs to a minority community", the resolution noted.
In addition to Pooniwalla, the collegium also recommended advocates Shailesh Pramod Brahme and Jitendra Shantilal Jain for appointment as judges in the Bombay high court.
Regarding Jain also, the IB had flagged an issue pertaining to his work in the chamber of a senior on the taxation side about 20 years ago. In this regard, the Collegium stated : "Enquiries have indicated that while it is correct that the candidate had ceased working in the chamber of that senior, he subsequently joined the chamber of a noted senior counsel at the Bar. The fact of the candidate having left the chamber of a senior earlier has no bearing on his ability, competence or integrity".
About Brahme, the Collegium said, “he is a competent lawyer with experience of about thirty years of practice in civil, criminal, constitutional and service law cases” and that no adverse inputs were received against him.
Not the first time the Collegium publicly rejecting IB objections
In January, the SC Collegium had publicised its reasons for rejecting IB objections, probably for the first time. The Collegium resolution dealt with the IB objections regarding the elevation of Senior Advocate Saurabh Kirpal, Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan and Advocate John Satyan.
Regarding Kirpal, who was recommended for elevation to Delhi High Court, the Collegium stated that IB objection regarding his sexual orientation and his foreign partner have no relevance.
About Somasekhar Sundaresan(recommended for Bombay High Court), the Collegium rejected the IB objection that he had written an article critical of the government.
As regards John Sathyan(recommended for Madras High Court), the Collegium rejected the IB objection that he had shared in social media an article criticising the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Central Government is yet to notify these names for appointment, despite the collegium reiterating their names in the January resolutions.
Later, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju expressed his displeasure at the Collegium making IB inputs public. "Putting secret or sensitive reports of the RAW or IB in the public domain is a matter of grace concern which I will react at an appropriate time. I can say this much, if the concerned officer, who is working for the nation in disguise or in a secretive manner, will think twice that his/her report is going to be in the public domain. It will have an implication," he said.