The Supreme Court collegium has cleared the appointment of 25 additional judges as permanent judges of five High Courts. It also approved elevation of 19 lawyers to three High Court benches, including five to the Karnataka High Court, overruling the chief minister’s objections.
Among lawyers whose name was turned down was one who did not meet the “income criterion” — the CJI-led team found his average professional income “well below the prescribed minimum professional income limit”.
The three senior judges of the collegium — Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi — who met on Monday, agreed to recommendations to make permanent two additional judges of Himachal Pradesh, 18 additional judges of Madhya Pradesh, two of Jharkhand and two of Chhattisgarh high courts.
Their names were recommended by the collegiums of the respective high courts, and approved by chief minister and Governor of the respective states.
The collegium found Justice Narendar G of Karnataka High Court “suitable for appointment as permanent judge”, even though the HC Collegium had only recommended that his tenure as additional judge be extended for one year with effect from January 1, 2018.
“Taking into consideration the material on record, including the views of our consultee-colleagues…the Collegium finds Mr Justice Narendar G. suitable for appointment as permanent judge,” the SC Judges said. The judges noted that while recommending extension of his term as additional judge the Karnataka HC collegium “has not placed on record any material for not recommending him for appointment as permanent judge, though a permanent post is available”.
The SC collegium, which also considered files for elevating 27 advocates as High Court judges in Karnataka, Madras and Calcutta HC approved 19 names.
The Karnataka HC collegium had recommended 10 names, but the Chief Minister “disagreed with the same.” The December 4 resolution of the SC collegium stated:. “The Chief Minister, while conveying his disagreement…has forwarded copies of certain communications received from bodies of advocates expressing the concern that the names recommended do not provide opportunity of representation to cross-sections of the society on the Bench of the High Court. He has advised that the entire proposal be returned to the High Court for reconsideration.”
The Karnataka Governor also conveyed that some of the candidates do not meet the requirement of efficiency in their performance but did not specify names.
In its minutes dated December 6, 2016 and January 11 and 13, 2017, the HC Collegium noted that it took into account “merit, experience, performance, character and conduct” of those recommended by it. The HC also recorded that it had “given adequate representation to all sections of the society to the extent possible considering the merit of the respective candidates”.
The SC collegium said there was no need for any further examination as the HC collegium had looked into it.
The SC judges agreed with the Karnataka Governor that those recommended should be appointed only after a thorough objective assessment of their performance and integrity.
The collegium directed that five of the 10 recommended persons be elevated. It remitted four names back to the HC Chief Justice for fresh consideration and turned down one name.
On Calcutta HC, the collegium approved five of the six names recommended to it. It rejected the name of Advocate Piush Chaturvedi, as “…his average professional income is well below the prescribed minimum professional income limit. As he does not qualify the income criterion, the proposal for his elevation to High Court does not inspire confidence and is, therefore, rejected”.
The SC collegium approved elevation of nine advocates from a list of eleven as judges of Madras HC. It turned down one name, as the person is past 55 years — the maximum prescribed for advocates recommended for elevation to HC.