The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved verdict on a writ petition challenging the selection of 12 names — 10 from the Bar and two from subordinate judiciary — for appointment of judges to the Madras High Court.
The Supreme Court collegium had already returned the list to the Union Law Ministry for sending it back to the High Court for consideration afresh.
Earlier in the day, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, appearing for the Registrar-General, told a Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan, J. Chelameswar and M.Y. Eqbal that the petition filed by senior advocate R. Gandhi was not at all maintainable as it questioned the list of names sent by the collegium. He said the petitioner also wanted consultations outside the collegium. If the Bar had any grievance, the remedy lay elsewhere. The AG said: “During the course of hearing, a sitting judge walks into the courtroom, files an affidavit and the court passes an interim order. We hang our heads in shame. What happened to our institution?”
To this, Justice Chauhan said: “We are aware that a judge made his appearance in the court. We have lot of materials on what the judge had said.”
Counsel S. Prabhakaran, appearing for Mr. R. Gandhi, drew the court’s attention to the fact that the list of 12 names had already been returned and nothing survived in the matter. . Additional Solicitor-General L. Nageswar Rao, appearing for the Supreme Court, referred to the petitioner’s submission of social imbalance in the 12-member list and said no lawyer from any particular community had no right to be considered for being appointed as judge.
Justice Chauhan said, “To consider a community and say they are not eligible is different from not considering them at all.”
Justice Chelameswar told the ASG: “It may have larger social dimensions if certain segments of society are not adequately represented on the Bench. Their [Bar] grievance is representations of various communities are not considered at all. It could not be an accident if it happens for 60 years that certain communities are left out.”