The Supreme Court Collegium has modified its recommendation on Justice A.A. Kureshi. It appears that the collegium has succumbed to pressure from the Union government.
What is the modification in the order?
Modifying its resolution of May 10 that the senior judge be appointed Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Collegium has now decided to send him to the Tripura High Court.
What has happened so far?
It was quite apparent that the Centre was averse to the elevation of Justice Kureshi, who is from the Gujarat High Court, but serving in the Bombay High Court on transfer. The government did not act on the recommendation for months, raising the suspicion that it was blocking his appointment. The Collegium modified its decision after considering letters from the Department of Justice on August 23 and 27, and “accompanying material”.
It is possible that the Collegium and the Centre have arrived at a compromise under which the government drops its opposition to his appointment as Chief Justice on the condition that he is sent to a smaller high court.
Analysis of the present situation
It is common to charge the Collegium with lack of transparency, but in this case, the government is equally guilty. If the Law Ministry had a bona-fide objection to Justice Kureshi, it could have disclosed its opinion on his suitability. The failure to do so has the inevitable consequence of the public imagination concluding that the ruling party is blocking his elevation because of judicial orders he had passed while serving in Gujarat. As for the Collegium, it is unclear why it could not have disclosed what the government had wanted in its communications. This episode makes a dent in the prevailing narrative that the Collegium system is a shield against executive interference in judicial appointments.
Source: The Hindu