The confrontation between the NDA government and judiciary over appointment of judges to higher judiciary appears to have intensified.
On a day when the Supreme Court asked the Centre to explain the delay in transferring high court judges, the government informed the Chief Justice’s bench on Monday that it had returned names of 13 judges for Allahabad high court despite the collegium reiterating its recommendation.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told Justice TS Thakur’s bench there were “certain inconsistencies” in the
These names were part of the list of 37 candidates against whom the Centre had raised a red flag in the first round. But, on November 18 the collegium affirmed its decision and sent the files back for processing the appointments.
The Centre’s stand is seen as defying an SC verdict according to which an appointment cannot be turned down if the top court collegium reiterates it.
Justice Thakur had this ruling in mind when he told Rohatgi that the high-powered judges’ panel had stood by its decision.
However, the related development in SC on transfer of judges could embarrass the government. “If government keeps transfer files pending, litigants will suspect that he is staying back for suspect motives,” Justice Thakur told Rohatgi.
The remarks came after senior advocates Ram Jethamalani and Yatin Oza, appearing for Gujarat high court bar association, accused the government of sitting over the files for over 10 months.
They said a particular judge from the HC was not getting transferred because he was close to the ruling dispensation at the Centre.
They added that transfer of other HC chief justices was also pending. Recommendations were made in February last, the two contended.
Oza said the state HC was in shambles and the government was trying to scuttle transfers effected by the collegium.
Failure to do so would lead to “reasonable apprehensions” in the minds of the people even if they are “unfounded” Jethmalani said.
The judges whose have not been transferred include Justice KM Joseph from Uttarakhand high court who had quashed the Presidents Rule imposed in the state. Justice Joseph was to take over as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh.
CJI Thakur then told Rohatgi “There are processes for appointing judges.You need to tell us the reason for the delay. You need to have some plausible explanation for the delay. Why are you sitting over the files?” The court gave three weeks to Rohatgi to clarify.