'Expression Of Views Will Not Disentitle A Candidate' : Supreme Court Collegium Reiterates Proposal To Elevate Somasekhar Sundaresan As Bombay HC Judge
The Supreme Court Collegium has reiterated its last year’s recommendation to the Centre to appoint Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan as Judge of the Bombay High Court holding that his views on social media cannot be used to infer he’s highly biased opinionated person.
The collegium of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph held.
“All citizens have the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Expression of views by a candidate does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office so long as the person proposed for judgeship is a person of competence, merit and integrity.”
The Collegium of Bombay High Court recommended the name of Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan on 04 October 2021. On 16 February 2022, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the name of Somasekhar Sundaresan for appointment as a Judge of the Bombay High Court. On 25 November, 2022, the Government has sought reconsideration of the said recommendation.
The Centre's objection was that he has aired his views in the social media on several matters which are the subject matter of consideration before the courts.
However, reiterating Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan’s name the collegium said,
“The manner in which the candidate has expressed his views does not justify the inference that he is a “highly biased opinionated person” or that he has been “selectively critical on the social media on the important policies, initiatives and directions of the Government” (as indicated in the objections of Department of Justice) nor is there any material to indicate that the expressions used by the candidate are suggestive of his links with any political party with strong ideological leanings.”
It added that Advocate Sundaresan has specialized in commercial law and would be an asset to the Bombay High Court which has a large volume of cases of commercial and securities laws, among other branches. “The Department of Justice has adverted to paragraph 175 of the Second Judges Case [(1993) 4 SCC 441] to the effect that the candidate to be selected must possess high integrity, honesty, skill, high order of emotional stability, firmness, serenity, legal soundness, ability and endurance. The candidate fulfills these qualities.”
“The Collegium, therefore, resolves to reiterate its recommendation dated 16 February 2022 for appointment of Shri Somasekhar Sundaresan, Advocate, as Judge of the Bombay High Court.”