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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Faceoff: Centre objected but Supreme Court Collegium firm on 12 names for HCs

The 12 names were reiterated despite objections from the government as the Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, recommended 68 candidates in total across 12 High Courts last week.

Written by Apurva Vishwanath | New Delhi |
Updated: September 5, 2021 7:47:11 am
Chief Justice of India N V Ramana with Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi on Saturday. (Photo: PTI)

Setting the stage for a fresh confrontation with the Government, the Supreme Court Collegium has reiterated its decision recommending the appointment of 12 candidates, including three judicial officers, to five High Courts.

The 12 names were reiterated despite objections from the government as the Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, recommended 68 candidates in total across 12 High Courts last week. The Collegium’s recommendations were published on the Supreme Court website Friday.

According to the Memorandum of Procedure, once reiterated by the Collegium, the Centre is bound to make the appointment which makes the reiteration of 12 recommendations significant. The Centre can sit on these names indefinitely despite the court having underlined the importance of time limits to this process.

For the Allahabad High Court, the Collegium reiterated its recommendation to appoint three judicial officers Om Prakash Tripathi, Umesh Chandra Sharma and Syed Waiz Mian.

The three were first recommended on February 4 along with eight other judicial officers. The Centre had appointed seven judges from that list in March.

Tripathi, Sharma and Mian are currently District and Sessions Judges in Varanasi, Etawah and Amroha respectively.

Among advocates, the collegium has reiterated nine names from four High Courts even as the Centre had raised objections.

For the Rajasthan High Court, the collegium reiterated its decision to appoint advocate Farzand Ali, Additional Advocate General with the Congress led-state government. Ali’s name was first recommended by the SC collegium in July 2019.

For the Calcutta High Court, the collegium has reiterated its decision to recommend four advocates Jaytosh Mazumdar, Amitesh Banerjee, Raja Basu Chowdhury and Lapita Banerji.

The names were first recommended by the SC collegium in December 2018 along with another advocate Sakya Sen. While all five names were not considered by the Centre, the collegium has reiterated four.

All five judges were state government advocates, pleaders and standing counsel appointed by the West Bengal government.

Incidentally, Amitesh Banerjee is the son of former SC judge UC Banerjee who had in 2006 headed a Central probe that, in its report, ruled out any foul play in the February 2002 Sabarmati Express fire in Godhra.

Shakya Sen is the son of former High Court judge Shyamal Sen who served as acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court and later as Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.

After retirement, he was appointed as chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2008.

However, a recommendation made later in January 2019, that of Justice Kaushik Chanda, who was an Additional Solicitor General in the Calcutta HC appointed by the Central government, was promptly cleared by the Government. This week, the Centre also notified the appointment of Justice Chanda as a permanent judge of the HC.

The collegium also reiterated the names of two advocates for appointment as judges of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Moksha Khajuria Kazmi and Rahul Bharti.

While Kazmi was first recommended in October 2019, Bharti was recommended in March. Khajuria-Kazmi is a senior advocate who has served as Additional Advocate General during Governor’s rule in 2016 and later continued to serve in the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government in J&K before her services were terminated.

For the Karnataka High Court, the collegium reiterated its decision to recommend advocates Nagendra Ramachandra Naik and Aditya Sondhi. Sondhi has previously served as the Additional Advocate General for the Congress-led Karnataka government.

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