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SC judge seeks full court discussion on govt interference


ANI New Delhi [India]
Senior and renowned Supreme Court judge Jasti Chelameswar on Thursday wrote to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, seeking a full court discussion on government interference in the appointment of judges to high courts.
Justice Chelameswar, in his letter, cautioned that the bonhomie between the judiciary and the government in any State sounded the death knell to democracy.
"Let us also not forget that bonhomie between Judiciary and the Government in any State sounds death knell to Democracy. We both are mutual watchdogs, so to say, not mutual admirers, and much less constitutional cohorts," Justice Chelameswar wrote.
"I am of the opinion that this matter is now ripe for the consideration of the Full Court on the judicial side, if this institution really is to be any more relevant in the scheme of the Constitution," the letter added.
The letter was written on March 21, while copies were sent to 22 other apex court judges, who have questioned the probe initiated by Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari against District and Sessions Judge Krishna Bhat at the instance of Union Ministry of Law and Justice, despite his name being recommended for elevation twice by the Collegium.
Raising the issue of judicial independence, Chelameswar said, "We, the judges of the Supreme Court of India, are being accused of ceding our independence and our institutional integrity to the Executive's incremental encroachment. The executive is always impatient, and brooks no disobedience even of the judiciary if it can. Attempts were always made to treat the Chief Justices as the Departmental Heads in the Secretariat. So much for our 'independence and preeminence' as a distinct State organ."
"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," he claimed in his letter.
Further, taking serious note of the communication between the Karnataka High Court Chief Justice and the executive, he said that the role of high court ceased with its recommendation. He said that any correspondence, clarificatory or otherwise, had to be between the executive and the Supreme Court.
"To my mind, I could recollect no instance from the past, of the executive bypassing the Supreme Court, more particularly while its recommendations are pending, to look into the allegations already falsified and conclusively rejected by us. Asking the High Court to re-evaluate our recommendation in this matter has to be deemed improper and contumacious," the letter noted.
"He said the judiciary may not be "far-off" when the executive would directly communicate with the High Court about the pending cases and ask what orders are to be passed," the letter also read.
According to media reports, in 2016, the then chief justice of India TS Thakur had asked then high court chief justice SK Mukherjee to hold an inquiry against Bhat on certain allegations levelled by a subordinate woman judicial officer.
Bhat's name was later recommended after the probe had given him a clean chit.

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First Published: Mar 29 2018 | 9:10 PM IST

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