Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 22
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central government to respond in two weeks to a petition accusing it of deliberately sitting over the Collegium recommendation to appoint Justice Akil A Kureshi of the Bombay High Court as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi gave time till August 2 to the Centre after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time, saying the file was still under consideration.
On behalf of petitioner Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association, senior counsel Fali Nariman contended the government should act as a “distinguished communicator” and that it could not resort to “deliberate inaction” on a recommendation made by the Supreme Court Collegium more than two months ago.
The Centre should clarify if it had sought any feedback from the Madhya Pradesh Government, he said, adding that the Centre was only a distinguished communicator in the judicial appointments procedure. Nariman cited the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to emphasise that the government could not sit over the Collegium’s recommendation. “It must not fall between two stools,” the noted jurist said.
The Supreme Court had on July 15 agreed to hear the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association’s plea questioning inordinate delay in appointment of Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court despite recommendation of the Collegium.
It had directed that a copy of the petition be served on Solicitor General Thushar Mehta, who will act as amicus curiae and posted the matter for hearing on July 22.
The Association had on July 3 moved the Supreme Court accusing the Centre of deliberately sitting over the Collegium’s recommendation for Justice Kureshi’s appointment as MP High Court Chief Justice.
The Centre cleared the appointment of Chief Justices of other high courts, the recommendation of which was made by the three-member apex court Collegium before the summer vacation but didn’t clear the file for appointment of Justice Kureshi as the Chief Justice.
On June 7, it had issued a notification appointing Justice Ravi Shanker Jha as Acting Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, the petitioner pointed out. Appointment of Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice in Madhya Pradesh High Court was recommended by the Collegium on May 10.
The Collegium’s resolution had stated: “Justice AA Kureshi is the senior-most Judge from Gujarat High Court and at present is functioning, on transfer, in Bombay High Court”.
“Having regard to all relevant factors, the Collegium is of the considered view that Justice AA Kureshi is suitable in all respects for being appointed as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The Collegium resolves to recommend accordingly.”
The GHCAA has sought a direction for the Centre to implement the Collegium resolution of May 10, 2019 and appoint Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. The petition highlighted that 18 other additional judges of different High Courts have been appointed after May 10.
The association contended that the reluctance of the Centre to appoint Justice Kureshi as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh is against the procedure laid down in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) and amounts to violation of Articles 14 and 217 of the Constitution.
It said the inaction on the part of the Centre is an attack on the independence of the judiciary and diminishes the primacy of the judiciary in the matters of appointment and transfer of judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
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