Govt rejects candidature of 6 former judges on basis of 'adverse' IB reports; SC refuses to accept decision

As the tussle between the Central government and the judiciary over judicial appointments continues, the Supreme Court has refused to agree to a government veto on a judge’s appointment on grounds of national security, according to a report in The Indian Express. The report alleges that the Union government used “adverse” Intelligence Bureau reports to reject the candidature of six former judges for posting as chairpersons or members of tribunals and commissions.

Supreme Court of India. AFP

Supreme Court of India. AFP

The six judges, according to The Indian Express, include two judges who recently retired from the apex court; two who retired as chief justices of high courts; and two former HC judges.

The names of the judges were sent for approval to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) after due diligence by the administrative ministry concerned, according to the report. According to The Indian Express, four of the six former judges were not cleared and approved for the job by the ACC on accounts of "adverse IB reports", while the names of the other two were sent by the committee without attributing any reason.

The Indian Express reported that this rejection of judges by the committee, based on IB reports which contain little or virtually no corroborative evidence, is bound to make it harder for the Chief Justice of India to persuade retired judges to accept such posts.

Meanwhile, according to The TribuneLaw Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said that the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) is in the process of being finalised.

The Tribune reported that Prasad’s statement was at variance with that of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar who had on 20 March said that the MoP for the appointment of judges has finally been cleared and vacancies of judges in high courts would be filled expeditiously.

A bench headed by Khehar, while disposing of PILs seeking to fill vacancies for reducing the huge pendency of cases, said progress has been made and the number of posts of judges in high courts would be increased by 25 percent.

Earlier, last month the Supreme Court collegium finalised the MoP for the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary, ending a year-long face-off with the executive by agreeing to include the contentious clause of national security in the selection of judges. It had agreed to the national security clause, which the government had been insisting be included as one of the necessary criteria for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

The collegium after deliberations had also agreed on setting up secretariats in the apex court and the high courts to collate data about judges and assist in the selection procedure for their appointment to the higher judiciary.

The Tribune further reported that the law minister’s statement is indicative of the fact that the tussle between the NDA government and the top court’s collegium over some tricky issues in the MoP, including rejection of appointments on the ground of national security, is not yet over.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Apr 21, 2017 15:50:54 IST

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