Forum asks CJI, Prez to reconsider names of judges for Madras HC

A group of 45 eminent citizens has urged the President and the chief justice of India to reconsider those recommended by the Madras High Court (HC) to fill 15 vacant posts of judges as they were allegedly chosen on “divisive consideration and intense and unhealthy lobbying”.

The Chennai-based “Forum for integrity in governance”, a civil society coalition, referred to a “raging controversy” on the list of names finalised and forwarded by the High Court to the Supreme Court for confirmation.

A memorandum sent by retired IAS officer M G Devasahayam, convenor of the group, said: “We understand that allegations abound about the candidates being chosen are based on criteria far removed from demonstrated or proven calibre, knowledge, expertise and integrity.  Fallout is that undeserving persons of questionable competence, expertise and integrity get appointed and contribute to judicial delays, aberrations and poor quality judgments.

“More importantly, good candidates who would make worthy judges are kept out of the appointment process due to lack of transparency in the selection procedure. The end loser is the legal system, administration of justice and the rule of law.”

Seeking withdrawal of the “controversial list”, the group, including former railway board chairman Y P Anand, former Union secretary E A S Sarma, former chief information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, advocate Prashant Bhushan, demanded shortlisting process of judges to be made public so that ordinary citizens and the Bar could participate and provide inputs.

“We understand that the Intelligence Bureau has adversely reported on some of the names, while some, who have consented to be judges, have withdrawn. This could be an opportunity to have a relook at the list,” they said.

“The task of appointing the right people to man our higher judiciary is not one to be compromised in any way. It has to be done with utmost diligence and care for it is the job of the judges to continuously interpret our Constitution and the actions of the governments and public agencies in the light of Constitutional spirit,” they said.
The memorandum, also sent to Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal, Chief Justice of the HC and the collegium, further sought laying down of criteria for selection of judges.

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