The Centre has cleared four of the six names of advocates recommended by the Supreme Court collegium in February for appointment as judges of the Madras High Court, The Sunday Express has learnt.
On February 16 this year, the collegium headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana had recommended Nidumolu Mala, Sunder Mohan, Kabali Kumaresh Babu, S. Sounthar, Abdul Ghani Abdul Hameed, and R. John Sathyan for appointment as High Court judges. These names had been sent by the Madras High Court collegium to the apex court collegium in 2021.
In March 2022, the Law Ministry approved only two: Mala and Sounthar. The Sunday Express has learnt that the Centre since has cleared two more names, Babu and Mohan. However, the recommendation of Hameed and Sathyan are said to be pending.
“The Government has some objections with the two names. They have not been sent back officially but they remain pending,” sources said. The collegium to appoint judges of the High Court consists of the Chief Justice of India, Justices UU Lalit and Justice A M Khanwilkar.
Sources told The Indian Express that the state government and consultee judges — judges in the Supreme Court who are from the Madras High Court or have served in that High Court — had cleared the names of Hameed and Sathyan with “good reviews.”
Hameed is a Chennai-based advocate and heads AAV Partners, a law firm. He has previously been a junior to senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram. Satyan is a leading criminal lawyer in Chennai He has a Master’s degree in Zoology and studied law from the Madras Law College in 1997.
Sources said that even during 2016-2017, Sathyan was considered for elevation. The Madras HC has a sanctioned strength of 75 judges. Currently, it has 60 judges.
Many in the Bar see this as a repeat of what had transpired in the case of C Emalias, another minority candidate recommended for judgeship. In 2016, the Madras HC collegium had recommended the name of then Additional Public Prosecutor C. Emalias.
A native of Kanyakumari district, Emalias comes from humble beginnings and had established a criminal law practice in Chennai.
The Supreme Court, in 2017, cleared the name along with eight other names. In 2018, the collegium reiterated the recommendation of Emalias along with that of Senthil Kumar Ramamoorthy, who was then Partner at Dua Associates. In 2019, Ramamoorthy was appointed but Emalias was not. He was later appointed an Additional Advocate General of the state.