The Supreme Court Monday stayed the Madras High Court order to maintain status quo on the process of appointing 12 judges, saying it was a “serious matter” which will be taken up.
A Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and J Chelameswar also took note of the conduct of a judge of the Madras High Court, who, on January 9, had walked in as a special Bench was hearing a PIL against the proposed appointment of new judges and said the choice of probables was not fair.
“It is a very serious matter not only for the institution but also otherwise,” the Bench observed, while restraining a Division Bench of the High Court from further proceeding with the matter.
The apex court also put in abeyance the January 9 direction of the HC directing the Union Law Ministry to maintain status quo in respect of the list of 12 names forwarded by the Madras High Court.
It said the “gravity of the situation” had to be taken into consideration and the matter had to be withdrawn from the High Court and heard by a three-judge Bench of the SC.
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The Bench accepted the submission of Attorney General G E Vahanvati that such a serious matter cannot be heard in the atmosphere of commotion and alleged indulgence of a sitting judge who had walked into the courtroom during the hearing. “If he (the judge) has made a comment he should be made a party. You understand the implication. Unless he is made party he can’t say anything on his conduct,” the Bench said.
A few days back, Madras HC Judge C S Karnan had taken everyone by surprise as he entered the courtroom and said, “The selection is unfair. I am also a part of the judiciary. I want to file an affidavit in my own name. Please take note of it.” During hearing, the Attorney General questioned the interim order of the HC, contending that the process of appointment of judges for higher judiciary was beyond the scope of judicial review. He said judicial review on appointment of judges could be taken up only if such appointment lacked the eligibility criteria and the process of selection was devoid of consultation by the collegium.
The Madras HC had moved the SC to lift a Division Bench order. The Registrar-General of the HC described as baseless and unfounded the allegation made by senior advocate R Gandhi who had filed the petition in the High Court.