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Wednesday, September 9, 1998

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Judges' appointment guidelines
SC not to review judgement

NEW DELHI, Sept 8 (PTI) — The nine-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, adjudicating the presidential reference, today made it clear it was not going to "review or reconsider" the 1993 apex court judgement laying down the guidelines for the appointment of judges and their transfers.

The Union of India through Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee assured the Bench headed by Mr Justice A.S. Anand that it would abide by "letter and spirit" the Bench’s opinion on the reference raising nine doubts over the consultation process regarding the appointment of Judges.

When the Bench said, "Hope the government will abide by our opinion, Mr Sorabjee assured "whatever the nine-Judge Bench says, whether advisory or not, will be binding on the government."

The Bench said as the apex court’s 1993 judgement laying down guidelines regarding the appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court and Chief Justices and Judges to various high courts had become the law of the land, it "will neither review nor reconsider the judgement but consider the reference in the light of the judgement."

"However, if any grey area emerged during the hearing of the presidential reference, the court will make an earnest effort to clarify it," the Bench observed. The final hearing on the reference would commence on September 15.

Mr Sorabjee informed the court all confidential documents pertaining to the consultation process for appointment of judges, which formed the core of the present controversy, had been submitted in sealed cover to the court.

The 1993 judgement, on a petition filed by the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCARA), gave primacy to the opinion of the Chief Justice of India formed in consultation with two seniormost judges of the apex court in regard to appointment of Judges and their transfers.

The Bench said, "All that is needed is to answer these (nine) questions (referred to the court by the President under Article 143 of the Constitution) in the light of the 1993 judgement and if any grey area emerges that is to be considered."

Of a whopping 18 intervention applications filed by various organisations and individuals, the court allowed only the Bar Association of India (BAI), the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBAL), the Committee on Judicial Accountability (COJA) and advocate R.K. Singh (latter two being petitioner in a separate case pertaining to the appointment of Judges to the high court).

The Bench asked all others including Common Cause, to approach either the BAI or the SCBA with their pleadings and points to facilitate bringing of those to the court’s notice.

The Bench had earlier issued notices to Advocate-Generals of all states and union territories, the SCARA and Registrars of high courts for filing of written submissions. back

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