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Consultations for making judges permanent not necessary: Government


New Delhi : The government Thursday defended the successive chief justices’ practice of not consulting their two senior-most colleagues while making high courts’ additional judges permanent.

Additional Solicitor general Gopal Subramanian defended the practice, saying the successive chief justices, satisfied with the suitability of a candidate at the time of his appointment as an additional judge of the high court, might not have considered it necessary to have elaborate consultation while making his services permanent.

“It appears to the government that once being satisfied that the suitable candidate was, in fact, being appointed as an additional judge of the high court, elaborate consultations while confirming the appointment of an additional judge as a permanent judge may not have been considered necessary,” said Subramanian in a written submission.

The government’s law officer made the written submission to the bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat, during the hearing of a petition questioning the appointment of Justice Ashok Kumar of the Madras High Court.

Subramanian defended the practice despite noting elsewhere in his submission that as per the rules and regulations, the procedure for appointment of additional judges and subsequently making them permanent is same and includes elaborate consultation by the chief justices with his two senior-most colleagues.

“It is also provided that the procedure to be followed for making the appointment (of additional judges of the high court) would be the same as those for the appointment of a permanent judge,” he said.

Former law minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan has questioned the appointment of Justice Ashok Kumar, alleging that there were adverse intelligence reports against him which made him ineligible for appointment as a high court judge.

In his petition, Bhushan has also alleged that apart from being appointed as additional judge, he was subsequently made permanent as well in 2005, despite having “adverse intelligence input” against him.

Bushan has also contended that Justice Kumar was made permanent by present Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan though erstwhile apex court’s collegium, headed by former CJI Y.K. Sabharwal and R.S. Lahoti had serious reservation about confirming the services of Justice Kumar.

Taking note of the serious allegation, Justice Arijit Pasayat last August sought an elaborate affidavit from the government, detailing the exact number of high court judges made permanent since 1999 on the successive chief justices’ recommendations alone and on those endorsed by the collegium.

The government in its affidavit told the court that a total of 351 additional judges of various high courts were made permanent between January 1999 and 2007 by successive chief justices and in no case did the chief justice ever consult the collegium.