The government has asked the Supreme Court collegium to reconsider its recommendation on the appointment of Karnataka High Court judge K L Manjunath as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Sources said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took the decision in view of a strongly-worded adverse note written by a senior Supreme Court judge, questioning the move to elevate Manjunath, the seniormost judge of the Karnataka High Court.
The senior SC judge, who was consulted by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha before the collegium meeting, sent a detailed note listing the reasons why he opposed the move. However, while recommending Manjunath’s appointment, the collegium reportedly ignored this adverse note without citing any reasons.
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Sources in the Law Ministry said Prasad discussed the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before deciding to refer it back to the CJI for reconsideration by the collegium.
The other names recommended by the collegium, including the transfer of current Punjab and Haryana HC Chief Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul to Madras High Court, are being processed and a formal notification is expected soon.
This is the second time that the NDA government has sent back a recommendation made by the collegium. Earlier, the government had “unilaterally segregated” former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium from the panel of four names recommended for appointment as Supreme Court judges by the collegium.
The CJI had publicly expressed his disapproval and said the government’s decision was “not proper”. \He had also written to Prasad and said the government should not adopt such “unilateral segregation” in the future.
The Law Minister could not be contacted despite many attempts.