Government can do very little

Government can do very little

The collegium comprising the chief justice of India and four senior-most judges—Justices B N Agrawal, S H Kapadia, Tarun Chatterjee and Altmas Kabir—has recommended the name of Justice Dinakaran for elevation to the Supreme Court.

According to a decision by the Supreme Court, the government is bound by the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium on the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts and chief justices of the high court.

In many instances, the President of India or the government had sent back the recommended name to the Supreme Court with a note for reconsideration of a certain name, whenever there was any controversy. The Supreme Court provision is silent on the withdrawal of the name of the judge after recommending his name for elevation. Even the Supreme Court collegium is not bound to obey the suggestion of the government.

For instance, the file for elevation of Justice Jagdish Bhalla, presently the Chief Justice of Uttaranchal High Court, and Justice Vijender Jain, former chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, was sent back to the Supreme Court by the then President, A P J Abdul Kalam, for reconsideration.

The names of Justices H L Dattu, R M Lodha and A K Ganguly were returned by the UPA government to the SC for reconsideration as they superseded many senior judges. Justices Dattu, Lodha and Ganguly were appointed Supreme Court Judges superseding Delhi HC Chief Justice A P Shah, Madhya Pradesh HC Chief Justice A K Patnaik and Uttarakhand HC Chief Justice V K Gupta.

Justice Bhalla of the Chhattisgarh High Court was elevated to the post of chief justice of Uttaranchal High Court after the collegium refused to bow down to pressure from the legal fraternity on his alleged land acquisition at Noida. Justice Bhalla had reportedly acquired a piece of land in Noida at a throwaway price, which was much lower than the market price.

Under a cloud

Justice Jain was under a cloud for his orders on the demolition of illegal structures in the capital. Justice Jain, while he was a judge in the Delhi High Court, had allegedly passed an order in favour of a person who was in a property dispute with his brother. However, the SC collegium in another sitting decided to stick to their decisions and again sent the files to the government for their appointment and Presidential assent.