NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court on Friday told Attorney General (AG) R Venkataramani that elevation of lawyers, picked up by the collegium for appointment as judges, should not be objected merely due to their point of view, and a court must reflect different philosophies and points of view.
The top court also expressed displeasure at the government for sitting over the cases of transfers, saying it creates an impression that as if third party sources are interfering.
A bench comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka told the AG, representing the Centre, that he should advise the government, while pointing out that as members of the bar, lawyers speak on issues — argue for parties, a good criminal side lawyer will appear for criminals and if he is appearing in economic offence matters, he will defend those people.
“That does not mean anything. There are people of different points of view. A court must reflect different philosophies and points of view,” said justice Kaul.
He further added that “we praise Justice Krishna Iyer as one of the outstanding contributors to the bench”.
“Look from where he came from. When you join as a judge, you lose many colours and you are here to do a job and trained yourself to do a job independently, dehors whatever may have been your political affiliations or what may have been your thought processes… having a thought process does not mean that they are aligned one way or another. Bar is a different ball game. Bench is a different ball game. It is something which has troubled me,” Justice Kaul to the AG.
During the hearing, the central government assured the Supreme Court that it will adhere to the timeline and expedite the judges’ appointment process, however the top court pointed out that sending back reiterated names by the Centre was a matter of concern.
The AG said all efforts were being made to conform to timelines fixed by the apex court for clearing the names recommended by the collegium for the appointment of judges to the high courts and the apex court.
He added that 104 recommendations have been made by the high courts, which are with the Centre and out of which 44 would be processed and sent to the Supreme Court by this weekend.
The bench queried the AG about the five names which were recommended by the apex court collegium in December last year for the elevation to the Supreme Court.
The AG replied, “would your lordships defer this for a little while? I have some inputs… I don’t think I should probably discuss it here.”
The top court also expressed displeasure at the government for sitting over the cases of transfers.
It said the delay in clearing the name of judges for the appointment not only affects the administration of justice but creates an impression that as if third party sources are interfering on behalf of these judges with the government.
The top court said ten recommendations for transfer have been made and these have been made in the end of September and end of November.
“In that the government has a very limited role. Keeping them pending sends a very wrong signal. It is unacceptable to the collegium,” said the bench.
The bench also pointed out that 22 names (for the appointment as judges) were returned by the Centre recently, and some of those names were earlier reiterated by the collegium. It further added that some names were reiterated by the collegium three times, despite which the Centre returned them.
“Twenty-two names have been sent back by Centre and some reiterated (names) have been sent back and some of those sent back are even reiterated for the third time and some are ones which the Centre feels that we should consider, though not cleared by us…” said the bench.
The bench said: “Sending back reiterated names by the Centre is a matter of concern. Government might have apprehensions, but names cannot be kept on hold without sending us some comments in the fear that we will reiterate.”
It added that once the collegium reiterates then there should not be a problem in clearing the appointment.
The top court also pointed out that delay by the Central government in clearing collegium recommendations leads to candidates withdrawing their consent for judgeship or not giving consent.
It emphasised that this delay has led to meritorious lawyers not giving their consent to become judges.
“Delay in return (names of judges) and not appointing reiterated names is a matter of concern,” said Justice Kaul.
The top court scheduled the matter for further in the first week of February. It was hearing a contempt plea filed by The Advocates Association Bengaluru through advocate Pai Amit.
The plea said the Centre has not complied with the directions of the apex court in connection with the time schedule set for the appointment of judges. -IANS