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Another Judge Now Objects to SC Collegium Overlooking Seniority

September 05, 2019 05:58 AM


Another Judge Now Objects to SC Collegium Overlooking Seniority
LETTER TO CJI Justice Banumathi objects to the decision of recommending Himachal HC CJ Ramasubramanian to SC, overlooking Manipur HC CJ Sudhakar who is senior

New Delhi:

The sixth seniormost judge of the Supreme Court, Justice R Banumathi, has requested Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and members of the SC collegium to respect seniority of judges when recommending them for appointment to the apex court. In a letter to the CJI, she objected to the SC collegium’s decision to appoint Himachal Pradesh HC chief justice V Ramasubramanian to SC overlooking Manipur HC CJ Ramalingam Sudhakar, who is senior to the former, a source told ET.

Justice Banumathi is not a member of the SC collegium but by convention the CJI seeks the opinion of an SC judge hailing from the same parent high court as the judge considered for elevation. Justices Banumathi, Sudhakar and Ramasubramanian all hail from the Madras High Court.

When the SC collegium recommended Justice Ramasubramanian along with three other HC judges, on August 28, it said it had “taken into consideration combined seniority on all-India basis of chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts, apart from their competence, conduct and integrity.”

Justice Sudhakar hails from a family of freedom fighters and was appointed a judge of the Madras high court in 2005. He is credited for the landmark verdict on preserving rain-bearing Shola forest in the Western Ghats and Kodaikanal hill range. In the combined seniority of high court judges nationwide, he stands third and he was elevated as Chief Justice of the Manipur HC in 2018. Justice V Ramasubramanian, on the other hand, was elevated as judge of the Madras high court in 2006 and elevated as chief justice of Himachal Pradesh HC in 2019. In nationwide seniority he is 42nd .

The SC collegium while recommending Justice Ramasubramanian said it “is conscious of the fact that in the seniority of judges hailing from the Madras high court” he is in second position and after his appointment, “there will be two judges on the bench of the Supreme Court from the Madras High Court.” The collegium said that it had kept in mind the desirability of giving due representation to all HCs in SC, as far as possible, but some HCs would still be unrepresented. Earlier, senior SC judge Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul too had reaffirmed his reservations over bypassing eligible senior judges. ET was first to report that Justice Kaul while giving a positive appraisal for Justice Ravindra Bhat’s elevation to the apex court in a letter to the CJI had reiterated his disagreement at supersession of senior judges he made in January

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