Responding to the petitioner, advocate M Manohar Reddy’s claim that the appointment could be quashed since it was illegal, Vahanvati told a bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranajana Prakash Desai: “Even in a gross case if the Parliament does not act or fails to impeach a judge on lack of majority, SC cannot re-open proceedings to remove him or her.” He added though the PIL sought quashing of the appointment, it was equivalent to seeking removal of a judge.
However, counsel for the petitioner, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan argued that the question raised by the petition was of eligibility.
“The constitution provides for removal of a judge who is found to have misbehaved while in office. It does not deal with an ineligible appointment. What if a person who is not an Indian citizen is appointed as a judge. If this fact is known later, shouldn’t the appointment of such a man be cancelled,” Bhushan argued. The bench reserved its verdict.
According to the PIL, Ramana was ineligible to get elevated as he was a proclaimed offender at the time of his appointment in a case of rioting and destruction of public property in 1981 when he was a student of Nagarjuna University. This fact, it added, was not placed before the collegium – that selects candidates for appointment of judges.