Several of the judges recommended for elevation had earlier been recommended for transfer or elevation by the collegium to other high courts; these recommendations were never implemented by the Union government.
FOR the second time in a row, the Supreme Court Collegium withdrew its own recommendation to transfer the senior-most judge of the Kerala High Court, Justice K. Vinod Chandran, to another high court.
The collegium, which comprises Chief Justice of India Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph, has now recommended the appointment of Justice Chandran as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court. The office of the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court fell vacant on the appointment of the incumbent Justice Sanjay Karol as a Supreme Court judge earlier this week.
On December 13 last year, the Collegium made the recommendation to the Union government to appoint Justice Chandran as the chief justice of the Gauhati High Court upon the retirement of the incumbent chief justice. However, it did not happen. The government instead notified the appointment of the senior-most judge of the Gauhati High Court, Justice Nongmeikapam Kotiswar Singh, as acting chief justice.
Justice Chandran’s name was also recommended for transfer to the Bombay High Court by the collegium on September 28 last year. Even though this recommendation remained ineffective, the collegium in December last year recommended his elevation as chief justice of the Gauhati High Court.
Now, the collegium has decided to recommend the name of Justice Sandeep Mehta from the Rajasthan High Court for appointment as the chief justice of the Gauhati high court. For its decision to this effect, the collegium reasoned that the Rajasthan High Court is unrepresented among the chief justices of the high courts.
Earlier, the collegium had also withdrawn its recommendation dated September 28, 2022 to appoint the Orissa High Court’s Justice Jaswant Singh as chief justice of that high court. Last month, it had instead recommended his appointment as chief justice of the Tripura High Court. Though his appointment to this effect is yet to be notified, the collegium, in anticipation of his retirement on February, 22 has also recommended that Jharkhand High Court judge Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh be appointed as chief justice of the Tripura High Court to succeed Justice Jaswant Singh.
Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh had been recommended by the collegium to be transferred to the Tripura High Court on September 28 last year; that too is yet to be given effect to by the government.
In September last year, the collegium had recommended the elevation of Orissa High Court Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar to the office of Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. Even this recommendation remains ineffective till now.
In addition, the collegium has also recommended that Justice Sabina, who is presently the acting Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, be appointed as the regular chief justice of that high court.
On February 3 this year, the Supreme Court, while hearing a contempt petition over delay in appointment of judges, warned the Union government of “unpalatable consequences” if the collegium’s recommendations to transfer high court judges were not given effect in the next ten days. A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka said that the transfer of judges is a serious issue, more serious than anything else.