In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) J S Khehar has reiterated all 19 names for elevation to the Allahabad High Court that the Centre had earlier rejected — not once but twice.
The collegium decision, sources told The Indian Express, was conveyed to the government a few days ago.
It will be interesting to see what view the Centre takes to this stand.
These names were part of the 30 recommended by the collegium of the Allahabad High Court last year. Of those, the government, after receiving clearance of the Supreme Court, had processed the names of 11 and sent back 19 to the collegium for reconsideration.
However, the SC collegium, headed by then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Tirath Singh Thakur, reiterated the names. But, in an unusual move, the Narendra Modi government rejected all the names and sent them back to the SC collegium.
The refusal of the Modi government to process the appointments as reiterated by the SC collegium had resulted in a major flash-point between the Centre and the SC, with the SC also taking a strong note of the government’s adamant attitude.
Under the existing Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), the Central government has to accept the names recommended by the SC collegium if the same are reiterated. But, in this case, the Centre expressed its reluctance to do so.
Sources said the reason behind the Centre’s reluctance was the fact in almost all the 19 names, there were inconsistencies in the view of the collegium and that of consultee judges — judges who have served in the Allahabad High Court and whose views about the candidates were sought by the CJI.
In several cases, even though the consultee judges had opposed the candidature, the SC collegium had decided to ignore the same and had gone ahead with the recommendation.
Sources told The Indian Express that the view of the collegium is that the consultation with judges is a way to broad-base the consultation process but these views are not binding upon the collegium.
Allahabad High Court, the country’s biggest high court, has the distinction of having almost 50 per cent posts of judges vacant. With a sanctioned strength of 160 judges — 76 permanent and 84 additional judges — the High Court is currently functioning with just 84 judges.