Supreme Court of India.

Contempt petition filed against Centre for not clearing names of eleven despite Collegium’s reiteration

A contempt petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the Central Government for not clearing the names of nine advocates and two judicial officers for their appointments as high court judges despite the Supreme Court Collegium reiterating their names.

The petitioner, Advocates Association Bengaluru, has also raised the issue of the segregation of the names which, the petitioner, says is detrimental to the cherished principle of the independence of the judiciary.

The plea asserts that the inordinate delay in the appointment of judges to the high courts after the recommendation by the Collegium even after their reiteration is a direct contravention of the judgment passed by the nine-judge constitutional bench in the Second Judges case (1993) and, more specifically, the recent order passed in M/s PLR Projects Pvt. Ltd. vs. Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, in which the apex court fixed a schedule to give effect to the Collegium’s recommendations.

The petitioner refers to the names of five advocates from Calcutta, Jaytosh Majumdar, Amitesh Banerjee, Raja Basu Chowdhury and Lapita Banerji, who were recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium on July 14, 2019 and their names were reiterated on September 01, 2021. Advocate Sakya Sen was recommended for high court judgeship on July 24, 2019 and his name was reiterated on October 18, 2021.

Besides, two advocates from Jammu and Kashmir, Moksha Kazmi and Rahul Bharti had been recommended by the Collegium initially on October 15, 2019 and again on March 02, 2021. Despite the reiteration by the Collegium, the Centre had not approved their appointments.

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In addition, the petition refers to the names of advocates Nagendra Ramachandra Naik and Aditya Sondhi. They were initially recommended by the Collegium for appointment to the Karnataka High Court on October 03, 2019 and February 04, 2021 respectively. Despite the Collegium reiterating their names on March 02, 2021 and September 01, 2021, the Centre had not notified their names.

The names of two judicial officers, Umesh Chandra Sharma and Syed Waiz Mian, had also not been approved by the Collegium for Allahabad high court judgeship despite the Collegium reiterating their names.

The plea warns that a very dangerous precedent would be set if the Executive conferred upon itself the power to implement only those binding recommendations that were to its liking and chose not to implement others.

“It is submitted that the failure to implement the binding decision of the Collegium headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India, even upon reiteration, would amount to a willful disobedience of the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court”, the plea states.

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