SC counters A-G claim on performance of judge

Says judge delivered over 100 verdicts during his tenure

SC counters A-G claim on performance of judge

The Supreme Court on Thursday countered the Centre’s claim that one judge was promoted to the apex court without delivering even three-figure judgments, by producing records purportedly showing he passed over 100 verdicts in his tenure.

Hearing a batch of PILs challenging validity of the NJAC Act, a five-judge bench presided over by Justice J S Khehar gave a clear indication that they were ready to face criticism but would not brook any unfounded charge against a brother judge.
“We have checked records. In fact, we asked Registrar General to collect data. The judgments delivered by the particular judge are well beyond three-figure,” the bench told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. The AG had earlier criticised the collegium system of appointment of judges by citing example of the particular judge, who despite his poor track record in HC in delivering judgements, was promoted by the collegium. He had then said the said judge had only passed seven judgments in the apex court. Then court had then tried to turn the tables on the government by pointing out that the said judge was appointed to National Human Rights Commission after his retirement.

On Thusday, the bench which came back with a file containing data of the judge’s performance said that the claim made by the AG was not correct.

Rohatgi, on his part, stood his grounds. “This can’t be. What I meant that he has not authored those judgments. He may have been part of the bench, delivering the judgments.” He, however, took the file from the bench and promised to come back after re-checking the records.

The bench, which asked the AG not to make public the data, also expressed their surprise that the Delhi HC does not have computerised records of the judgements. The particular judge has been in Delhi HC, Kerala and Uttarakhand HCs.

During the day-long hearing, the AG also produced files retrieved from the archives, to show the appointments of judges in HCs were made in the 1950s on the basis of direct consultation by the executives with the Chief Justices.

Opposing the NJAC Act, senior advocate Fali S Nariman contended that the judges appointment could not be called as purely executive function, it could be at the most be descrived as “judico-executive”. Citing Article 124 of the Constitution, he said it was the only place where President has to make consultation with somebody that is Chief Justice of India. Otherwise, all other appointments by President were made on the aid and advise of the council of ministers, he added.

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