"Historic Blunder": Former Judge To President On Picks For Top Court

"This is appalling and outrageous that such an earth shattering decision has been taken to supersede as many as 32 judges which include many Chief Justices, casting aspersions on their intellect, merit and integrity," read the letter from former Delhi High Court judge Kailash Gambhir.

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The Supreme court, Justice Gambhir indicated, now faces a bigger challenge.


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Ex-judge of Delhi High Court has written to President Ram Nath Kovind
  2. Kailash Gambhir referred to recommendation of elevation for two judges
  3. The "historical blunder" will ruin the credibility of top court, he said

The Supreme Court collegium's recommendation for out-of-turn elevation of two judges is "appalling" and "outrageous" and has sent "shockwaves through the legal community", a former judge of the Delhi High Court written to President Ram Nath Kovind. If the recommendation for the elevation -- which in one case will supercede more than 30 senior judges -- is accepted, the "historical blunder" will ruin the credibility of the country's top court, his letter said. 

On January 10, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had recommended the elevation of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna of the Delhi High Court. A recommendation from the collegium has to be accepted by the President.

"This is appalling and outrageous that such an earth shattering decision has been taken to supersede as many as 32 judges which include many Chief Justices, casting aspersions on their intellect, merit and integrity," read the letter from former Delhi High Court judge Kailash Gambhir.

The letter also pointed out that less than two months ago, Dinesh Maheshwari was superceded. "Now out of the blue, he becomes more deserving and suitable within such a short gap." Justice Maheshwari was superceded during the appointment of Justice Ajay Rastogi.

The letter said it was "not so long ago" that Justice Gogoi had addressed a press conference along with three other most senior judges of the Supreme Court to flag some of the "pressing problems they faced with the then Chief Justice of India". At the time, the letter said, the judges had said unless the institution is preserved, "democracy will not survive in this country".

The top court, Justice Gambhir indicated, now faces a bigger challenge. "I write to you as having been a proud member of this vibrant judiciary, which has withstood the tests on its credibility every now and then, but I am afraid may not survive this time," Justice Gambhir wrote.

Citing when late Justice HR Khanna - a relative of Sanjiv Khanna -- was superceded for the post of the Chief Justice of India due to his minority opinion in the habeas corpus case of 1976, Justice Gambhir said it was regarded by many as a "black day" in the history of judiciary. The habeas corpus judgment had upheld then Congress government's move to unlawfully detain citizens during Emergency.

Urging the President to consider the issue, Justice Gambhir wrote, "I humbly pray that the credibility and independence of the judiciary be preserved and let another historical blunder be not committed".

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