Less than a month after a faceoff between the Modi government and the judiciary over appointment of senior advocate Gopal Subramanium as a judge of the Supreme Court, they appear to be on a collision course yet again.
This time it is over the elevation of justice KL Manjunath of Karnataka high court as chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Within days after the government returned the file relating to the elevation of Manjunath, the Supreme Court collegium (group of top judges) headed by CJI RM Lodha is understood to have reiterated its original decision for his appointment as the CJ of Punjab and Haryana HC.
The present CJ of Punjab and Haryana HC Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has been transferred as CJ of Madras HC.
As per practice, the CJI is understood to have consulted a senior SC judge who had served in the Karnataka HC, on justice Manjunath's elevation. The senior judge had reportedly flagged certain issues in his note to the collegium. He had also separately sent a letter to the law ministry.
Taking note of the issues raised by the senior SC judge, the law ministry returned the file to the collegium with a request to reconsider its recommendation for justice Manjunath's elevation.
But with the SC collegium reiterating its original decision, the government will have no option but to appoint justice Manjunath as CJ of Punjab and Haryana HC.
Earlier, the faceoff over Subramanium's appointment was averted after the senior advocate choose to withdraw his consent for judgeship of the top court following the government's move to send back his file to the collegium.