Brushing aside the Intelligence Bureau’s comments on the “professional competence” of advocates whose names were recommended for appointment as Judges, the Supreme Court Collegium has said this can “best be determined” by “members of the higher judiciary”.
“As regards comments of Intelligence Bureau about his professional competence, we are of the view that professional competence can best be determined by the members of the higher judiciary who have the opportunity to observe his performance on a daily basis,” said the Collegium comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi, while agreeing to appoint Advocate Rajesh Kumar as a Judge of the Jharkhand High Court.
“As regards comments touching upon his integrity, the same are qualified by the IB’s own statement that ‘there is nothing on record’. In our view, it would not be appropriate to take cognizance of any unsubstantiated information based on discreet inquiries made by the IB,” said the Collegium.
The Collegium made the same remarks in two more cases — of Advocates Anubha Rawat Choudhary and Kailash Prasad Deo — and recommended that they too be appointed as Jharkhand HC Judges.
The Collegium, however, rejected a fourth name — Advocate Pankaj Kumar — after considering reports about his “association/ links with many overground front organisations”.
In the case of the Tripura HC, the Collegium considered the IB inputs regarding Advocate Arindam Lodh, and said the Bureau “has reported that nothing adverse has come to notice against his integrity.” Noting that it had taken into account some complaints against Lodh, the Collegium said, “as per fresh IB inputs placed in the file, the allegations in these complaints pertaining to his integrity are not corroborated.”
Regarding his professional competence, the Collegium reiterated: “As regards comments of IB about his professional competence, we are of the view that professional competence can best be determined by the members of the higher judiciary who have the opportunity to observe his performance on a daily basis.”
The Tripura HC Chief Justice, in consultation with his colleague, had recommended the names of Lodh and Data Mohan Jamatia, a judicial officer, for appointment as Judges. The Collegium “deferred” the proposal on Jamatia “for the present”, saying “further inputs relating to him are awaited.”
The Gauhati HC Collegium had proposed the elevation of three Additional Judges — Justices Lanusungkum Jamir, Manash Ranjan Pathak and Rumi Kumari Phukan — as permanent Judges.
While reviewing their names, the SC Collegium was informed by the Justice Department that the concurrence of the state government had not been received. The Collegium also referred to reports suggesting that their perfomance ought to be observed further, and recommended that their term as Additional Judges be extended by one more year.