The Supreme Court collegium has recommended to the centre the names of four district judges for appointment as judges of the Madras High Court. The four judges, whose names were recommended for elevation to the high court by the Supreme Court collegium for the first time, are R Sakthivel, P Dhanabal, Chinnasamy Kumparappan and K Rajasekar.
The collegium also told the centre to notify the names of R John Sathyan and Ramaswamy Neelakandan, whose names were given in the collegium’s previous recommendations in January this year, for appointment to the high court.
The Supreme Court said the names who it has already recommended and reiterated should not be “withheld or overlooked” as any delay disturbs the seniority of candidates.
“The names which have been recommended earlier in point of time including the reiterated names ought not to be withheld or overlooked as this disturbs their seniority whereas those recommended later steal march on them. Loss of seniority of candidates recommended earlier in point of time has been noted by the collegium and is a matter of grave concern,” the collegium said in its communication to the centre.
The centre is yet to clear the names of R John Sathyan and Ramaswamy Neelakandan. In the latest communication to the centre, the Supreme Court did not reiterate these two names as reiteration is possible only if their names are returned by the centre, which has neither returned nor notified these two names.
In recommending the four new names, the Supreme Court collegium also mentioned about the Intelligence Bureau’s assessment of the four district court judges, after which the collegium decided they are “fit and suitable for appointment as judges of the high court”, according to the collegium’s communication to the centre.
In January, the disclosure of Supreme Court judges’ back-and-forth with the centre over the appointment of judges, including objections raised by intelligence agencies, had led to disquiet in the security establishment. Until then it had been a practice not to make the objections public, and keep the confidentiality of intelligence agencies that scrutinise prospective candidates for the posts of the higher judiciary – both in the high courts and the Supreme Court.
The debate on executive versus judiciary has spiked over the issue of judicial appointments, where the government is pushing for a bigger role.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju in January wrote to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud requesting the inclusion of government representatives in the Supreme Court collegium, which decides on judges’ appointments.
More recently, on March 18, Chief Justice Chandrachud said not every system is perfect but this is the best system available. “Not every system is perfect but this is the best system we have developed. But the object was to protect the independence of the judiciary, which is a cardinal value. We have to insulate the judiciary from outside influences if the judiciary has to be independent,” Chief Justice Chandrachud said at the India Today Conclave.