Stare down continues as SC Collegium recommends advocate for Karnataka High Court judgeship for unprecedented third time

THE Supreme Court Collegium on Tuesday put its foot down by recommending for the third time the appointment of advocate Nagendra Ramachandra Naik as judge of the Karnataka High Court. The collegium, which comprises Chief Justice of India (‘CJI’) Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, made the recommendation to this effect.

Naik’s name was initially recommended by the Collegium headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi on October 3, 2019. However, the Union Government did not appoint him as judge and instead sought reconsideration of the collegium’s recommendation. The Collegium headed by then CJI S.A. Bobde, on March 2, 2021, once again reiterated its recommendation to appoint Naik. However, in an unprecedented move, the government once again returned his name to the collegium.

It was unprecedented because as per the Second Judges’ case decided by the Supreme Court in 1993, if the Collegium on reconsideration reiterates a recommendation, it ought to be accepted by the government as a matter of healthy convention.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Kaul, which has been hearing a matter on the judicial side, has been repeatedly observing that it is disturbed by the fact that reiterated names are being returned to the collegium by the government. The bench is of the view that once a name is reiterated, the appointment has to be made invariably.

Besides, the Collegium on Tuesday recommended the names of two judicial officers, namely Ramachandra Dattatray Huddar and Venkatesh Naik Thavaryanaik, for their appointment as Karnataka High Court judges.

Regarding the Manipur High Court, the Collegium has recommended the names of two judicial officers, Aribam Guneshwar Sharma and Golmei Gaiphulshillu Kabui, for their appointment as judges to that high court.

The Collegium has also recommended the names of two judicial officers, P. Venkata Jyothirmai and V. Gopalakrishna Rao, as judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Judicial officer Mridul Kumar Kalita’s name has been recommended for elevation as judge of the Gauhati High Court.

In addition, advocate Neela Kedar Gokhale’s name has been recommended for elevation to the Bombay High Court Bench.