Two judges objected to proposal over judges’ names, Sept 30 meeting discharged: Supreme Court Collegium

While there was disagreement within the Supreme Court Collegium over the method of finalizing four names – three Supreme Court justices and a senior advocate – for elevation to the Supreme Court and the Center, he meanwhile asked Chief Justice of India UU Lalit to name his successor. To mention, the Collegium has decided to “close” further steps related to the “unfinished” raise move.

A statement dated October 9, signed by the five members of the Collegium – CJI Lalit and Judges DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul, S Abdul Nazeer and KM Joseph – gave detailed information about what had happened so far. In a statement, the Collegium said the proposal was met with disagreement from two judges.

“The CJI’s proposal had the agreement of the Honorable Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and the Honorable Mr. Justice KM Joseph. The Honorable Dr. Justice DY Chandrachud and the Honorable Mr. Justice S. Abdul Nazeer had objected to the process of selection and appointment of judges through dissemination. The case was therefore ideally suited for a discussion at the table between the judges who formed the Collegium,” the statement said.

“Under the circumstances, no further steps need to be taken and the unfinished work will be closed at the September 30, 2022 meeting without further deliberation. The September 30, 2022 meeting is being dismissed,” the statement said.

On October 8, the Union government started the process of appointing the next CJI, write to CJI Lalit to name his successor. Conventionally, the college he leads does not make new recommendations when the CJI designates his successor.

“In the meantime, a letter dated October 7, 2022 has been received from the Hon’ble Minister of Union Law requesting the CJI to nominate his successor to take over the office of CJI on November 9, 2022,” the statement said.

CJI Lalit will retire on November 8.

The Supreme Court reconvened Monday after a week-long Dussehra hiatus, and September 30 would have been its last day of work to hold a Collegium meeting to make recommendations.

However, the meeting could not go ahead as the Chandrachud court ended at 9:10 pm.

The statement said: “Informal deliberations had been underway for some time to fill vacancies for Supreme Court judges and a formal meeting was held on September 26, 2022, when the names of 11 judges were considered. As there was unanimity on the name of Mr Justice Dipankar Dutta, Chief Justice, High Court of Bombay, a resolution to that effect was passed and consideration of the names of other ten judges was postponed to 30 September 2022”.

It added that “although the procedure for distributing the assessments of the potential candidates and making an objective assessment of their relative merits was first introduced at the meeting held on September 26, 2022 and although the name of Mr Justice Dipankar Dutta was also approved in that meeting, some members of the Collegium demanded that we have more judgments about the other candidates. Therefore, the meeting was postponed to September 30, 2022 and more verdicts were distributed.”

The statement pointed out that “initiation of the deliberations that took place on September 26, 2022, the deferred meeting of the collegium was convened on September 30, 2022 at 4.30 pm”.

However, since one of the members, Justice Chandrachud, did not attend the meeting, the CJI issued a “proposal vide letter dated 30.09.2022” and received “the approval” from Justice Kaul and Joseph “vide their respective letters dated 01-10-2022 and 07-10-2022” but “with separate letters dated 01-10-2022”.

Judges Chandrachud and Nazeer “objected, among other things, to the method adopted in the letter dated 30.09.2022”. It went on to say that the letters Justices Chandrachud and Nazeer “did not, however, reveal any positions against any of these candidates”.

“This was brought to the attention of their Lordships and reasons were solicited and/or alternative suggestions were invited through the second communication dated 02/10/2022 addressed by the CJI”, but “there was no response to said communication”, it said.

“The CJI’s proposal thus had the approval of Judges Kaul and Joseph,” the statement said. Judges Chandrachud and Nazeer “had objected to the process of selection and appointment of judges through dissemination”, adding that “the case was therefore ideally suited to a discussion at the table among the judges who make up the Collegium”.

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