Collegium’s  Role Under Scrutiny As  SC Splits On Elevation Of Judge To Post Of Chief Justice Of Himachal HCA view of India’s Supreme Court building (SAJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Yet again, the role of Supreme Court Collegium that recommends appointments of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts has come under scrutiny.

Supreme Court judge Justice A K Goel sent a letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra putting on record his “respectful disagreement” with the proposal to appoint Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Surya Kant at the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, reported the Indian Express.

Justice Goel’s opinion was sought by the CJI as a “consultee judge” since he had served in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. A consultee judge need not be a member of the collegium but his/her views are recorded on the elevation of judges from the High Courts they had worked earlier. However, the consultee judge’s opinions are not binding, though they are sent to the Centre.

Justice Surya Kant, if appointed, will supersede his brother judge Justice A K Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mittal is senior to him and this fact was recorded in the minutes of the10 January collegium meeting. The collegium, however, recorded that Justice Surya Kant was more suitable than Justice Mittal.

At the 10 January meeting, the collegium took a “historic decision” of recommending the name of senior advocate Indu Malhotra for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court. It also recommended the name of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph for appointment as a judge in the apex court.

The Collegium now consists of the three senior-most judges of the Supreme Court — Chief Justice Misra, Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

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