New Delhi : Senior Supreme Court lawyers have echoed Justice J. Chelameswar’s concern over the government’s interference in the appointment of judges, saying there is “too much” interference of the executive in the appointment of “judges with independent minds”.
Terming it a wake-up call, eminent senior lawyers urged the top court judges to “act decisively” in the guarding judiciary from governmental interference and uphold its independence “once and for all”.
As Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh said, there was “too much interference by the government”, senior counsel Dushyant Dave told IANS the “executive interference in the administration of the judiciary will sound the death knell for the judiciary”.
The Modi government is not interested in the “best names” but is definitely interested in “obstructing the names of people with independent minds”, said Vikas Singh, suggesting “if the collegium was to do its job diligently, the Centre would have less chance to interfere”.
Dave urged the judges of the top court to “wake up from their slumber and act decisively to stop the executive interference once and for all”.
The concern of the senior lawyers is rooted in the government sitting over the recommendation of the top court collegium for the appointment of judges to the high court and the Supreme Court, including recommendations for their transfers.
It is echoed in Justice Chelameswar’s letter, where he said: “For some time, our unhappy experience has been that the government’s accepting our recommendations is an exception and sitting on them is the norm. ‘Inconvenient’ but able judges or judges to be are being bypassed through this route.”
There are about 230 names recommended by top court collegium for appointment as judges of various high courts which are pending with govt for clearance since nearly a year-and-a-half.
Even in the case of the Supreme Court, two names — Chief Justice of Uttrakhand High Court K.M. Joseph and senior lawyer Indu Malhotra — for appointment as top court judges did not find favour with the government.
Though the Supreme Court has a sanctioned strength of 31 judges, at present there are 27 judges. Another six are going to retire this year, including Chief Justice Dipak Misra who will demit office on October 2.
Justice R.K. Agrawal (May 4), Justice Chelameswar (June 22), Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (July 6), Justice Kurian Joseph (November 29) and Justice Madan B. Lokur (December 30) will also demit office.