Executive's role in judicial appointments undermined: Jaitley

Executive's role in judicial appointments undermined: Jaitley

New Delhi, DHNS: "Look at the mirror", Arun Jaitley told the Congress, criticising it for the "hue and cry" over the NDA government's recent decision to refer back a judicial appointment recommendation to the Supreme Court collegium for reconsideration.

In a Facebook post, Jaitley, a former law minister, reminded the main Opposition parties as to how the judges were "superseded" in the past and attempts were made to "influence" judgements.

Jaitley's blog brings the spotlight back on the controversy surrounding the government's decision in April to return the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium for elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph to the apex court.

In the second week of May, the Supreme Court decided to resend Joseph's name to the government. However, it is yet to officially approach the government.

The Congress had accused the Centre of "revenge politics" alleging that Joseph's judgement in 2016 overturning the Centre's move to impose President's rule in Uttarakhand has resulted in this situation.

Jaitley noted that under the present scenario, the executive can give inputs to the collegium and even refer a recommendation back with relevant inputs for reconsideration but is eventually bound by the recommendations. 

"This is contrary to the text of the Constitution," he said.

Referring to incidents in the past where judges of the Supreme Court were superseded and how recommendations of the apex court were turned down, Jaitley recalled that during Indria Gandhi's regime, "Chief Justice Hidayatullah recommended the names of Justice S P Kotwal, the chief justice of Bombay, and Justice M S Menon, the chief justice of Kerala, to the Supreme Court. The executive did not respond to either of the two names and ignored the recommendations. The Chief Justice meekly submitted and never questioned the inaction."

He also said that during Jawaharlal Nehru's primeministership, Justice Bachu Jagannadha Das made it to the Supreme Court "because of his strong Congress party connections" and added that "such political recommendations are today unthinkable".

"Times moved on and through a series of judicial pronouncements, the court started diluting the role of executive in judicial appointments," Jaitley said, suggesting that the actions of the previous Congress governments perhaps led to it.

"Past experiences perhaps weighed with the court in diluting the role of the executive in judicial appointments," Jaitley said, adding that he wrote the blog so that his "friends in the Congress party get an opportunity to look at the mirror".

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox