The Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation for the elevation of a lawyer to the Karnataka High Court was refused thrice by the government because of his “deep affiliation” to a political party, sources have told NDTV. The Collegium’s communication in this matter also says the government deliberately delayed the file, pointing out that it is against the law, the sources added.
The Collegium had recommended Nagendra Ramachandra Naik’s name four times — a rare occurrence in the appointment of a high court judge. The first time was on October 3, 2019. Subsequently, the Collegium recommended his name twice in 2021 and once in January this year, sources said.
In its third reiteration, the Collegium said the government deliberately delayed clearing Mr Naik’s file. Such delay “affects the individual lawyer professionally as well as the institution”, the communication said, according to sources.
The government’s action is in violation of the law as laid down in the Second Judges case, the Collegium has told the government, sources said.
They also added that the Collegium had recommended the lawyer’s name after taking into consideration the allegations on his political affiliations and criminal record. The communication pointed out that as a matter of convention, the government has to accept a name that is sent by the Supreme Court Collegium for a second time.
The Collegium said inputs regarding criminal complaints against him appear to be baseless and were considered earlier. So it had reiterated its earlier recommendation for his elevation on January 16, 2023 for the third time, sources said.
Over the last few years, the government had withheld approval on names of judges repeatedly, as its disagreement with the top court on the judges’ appointment issue worsened.
Last month, the Collegium made public the reasons for the government’s objections to the elevation of three senior advocates and its own response in the matter, uploading its letters to the government on its website. The move to publicise a confidential document had upset the government, which reiterated its view seeking a larger role in the appointment of judges.
The very public disagreement between the judiciary and the government has exacerbated a shortage of high court judges and a backlog of cases. It amounts to the undermining the strength and independence of the judiciary, many former judges have said.
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