New Delhi, Aug 13: The stage seems set for yet another deadlock between the judiciary and the Centre with the latter having reservations about over 50% of the names of lawyers recommended by the former for appointment as judges of high courts. The Collegium had recommended 126 names and the issues the government has raised range from minimum income requirements to competence, said reports on Monday. (Also read: Centre Gives in to Apex Court Collegium Recommendation)
A report in The Times of India said that the government’s response followed a detailed check by the Intelligence Bureau, over three-four months, of the advocates being considered. The Law ministry has reportedly a system by which it evaluates all the recommendations made by the high court collegiums. Each of those recommended is assessed for merit and integrity, judgments he/she has been involved in, minimum annual income and reputation in the legal fraternity.
There has anyway been a deadlock between the executive and the Supreme Court over finalisation of the revised memorandum of procedure (MoP) for appointments to the higher judiciary. Meanwhile, as per the government’s mechanism, at least 30-40 candidates fell short as they didn’t meet the criteria on income requirements. Lawyers need to have an average annual income of Rs 7 lakh in the past five years to be considered. For performance evaluation, a review of judgments listed out by each candidate was done, said the report. During the evaluation, law officials went through at least 1,000-1,200 judgments. IB checks showed issues with personal and professional integrity in some cases, while nepotism and favoritism also cropped up with some found to be close relatives of sitting and retired SC and HC judges. (Also read: ‘Clear Collegium Picks to Decrease Pendency’)
An earlier report had also mentioned how the government had cited nepotism in picks for Allahabad HC judgeships. Out of 33 lawyers recommended by the Allahabad HC collegium for elevation, checks found at least half-a-dozen to be related to sitting and retired SC and HC judges. The report said that apparently the list was skewed in favour of upper castes with SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women making up a very small fraction.