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Supreme Court cross at sniping by ex-collegium members


NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court bench on Friday took a swipe at a few former collegium members who have been vocal in their criticism of the system, observing it has now become a fashion for them to do so after retirement.

Justice M R Shah, who is currently part of the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said, “We don’t want to comment upon anything made by former members (of the collegium). Now it has become a fashion to comment upon decisions made by earlier members.”

The remarks were made by the bench while considering a plea by RTI activist Anjali Bharadwaj, who sought the agenda, minutes and resolution of a Supreme Court collegium meeting on December 12, 2018, under the RTI Act. The SC came under the RTI Act in late 2019.

According to the autobiography of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice for the Judge, the collegium had agreed in its December 2018 meeting to recommend the names of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, who was then the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, and Justice Rajendra Menon, the then Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, for elevation to the Supreme Court but the decision was kept in abeyance since the news of their elevation had leaked.

Apart from CJI Gogoi, the other members of the then collegium were justices Madan B Lokur, A K Sikri, S A Bobde and N V Ramana. The resolution of the next collegium meeting on January 10, 2019, recorded that the decisions taken on December 12, 2018, were revisited and overturned “in the light of additional materials”.

Terming Bharadwaj’s plea as a “fishing inquiry by a busy body”, Justice Shah said, “Let the system which is functioning not be derailed. Let the collegium perform its duty.” On advocate Prashant Bhushan’s submission that the SC was itself backfiring after declaring the Right to Information as a fundamental right, the bench rebutted it saying, “We’re the most transparent institution. We’re not backfiring.”

In February 2019, Bharadwaj had filed an RTI request seeking a copy of the minutes of the resolution of the SC collegium’s December, 2018 meeting. While the Central Public Information Officer had dismissed the plea, the first appellate authority observed that the January 10, 2019 collegium resolution had made it clear that no resolution was formally passed in the December meeting since consultations could not be completed. She similarly hit a wall at the Central Information Commission and the Delhi high court before she brought it to the SC. The bench reserved its orders on the plea.

Justice Lokur expressed disappointment
After retirement, Justice Lokur had in a media interview expressed his disappointment at the SC not uploading its December 2018 collegium resolution. But the Delhi High Court refused to consider it

56 Days ago