Asserting its authority, the panel of country's five top judges (Supreme Court collegium) has reiterated its recommendation to promote the chief justices of Karnataka, Orissa and Madras high courts to the apex court.
With the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir, having virtually brushed aside the law ministry's objections on the names of Justices Vikramjit Sen (Karnataka), MY Eqbal (Madras) and V Gopalagowda (Orissa), the government now has limited options in the matter.
The collegium, in its response to the government's suggestion that the recommendation to promote these judges be reconsidered, is understood to have stated that it has carefully considered the allegations against them, which turned out to be baseless following proper inquiries, HT has learnt.
According to rules - based on a 1993 SC judgment - the government is bound to accept the collegium's recommendation in case it sends the same names for the second time.
But the government can refuse to accept the collegium's recommendation for the second time, only if it is not unanimous. "The Executive may not appoint a recommendee of the Judiciary if considered unsuitable for good reasons. However, if after due consideration the recommendation is reiterated by the CJI with the unanimous agreement of other judicial consultees then the recommendation will be binding," states the judgment.
Allegations levelled against these judges are 10-12 years old and were also raised when they were considered for elevation as high court chief justices.
A complaint against one of the three judges was about having admitted his daughter in a Jamshedpur medical college on a discretionary quota seat, allegedly facilitated by a corporate house in 2000. The collegium, however, found the complaint motivated and without any basis.
Another judge was allegedly named in a scandal in Mysore in 2002, and the then CJI had formed a committee of three judges to probe the issue.
He was given a clean chit, which concluded that "no act of immorality was proved against him."