Verdict reserved on plea against his being made permanent judge
Entire procedure violated: petitioners
From January 1, 1999 to July 31, 2007, collegium not consulted in many cases: affidavit
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved verdict on a quo warranto writ petition questioning the appointment of Justice Ashok Kumar of the Andhra Pradesh High Court as a permanent judge. Earlier appointed judge of the Madras High Court, he was shifted to Andhra Pradesh.
A Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma asked Additional Soliticor-General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Centre, to furnish in a sealed cover all records on the appointment of Justice Ashok Kumar.
Earlier, senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for petitioners â the former Union Law Minister Shanthi Bhushan and advocate Kamini Jaiswal â said: "It is a matter of public interest that the appointment of High Court judges be made according to law as laid down by the Supreme Court itself.
"It is a matter of grave public concern if the law so laid down is contravened. In the case of Justice Ashok Kumar, the entire procedure had been violated."
Quoting apex court judgments, he said it was the duty of the High Court Chief Justice to consult the two seniormost judges while recommending that an additional judge be appointed permanent judge. If this procedure was not followed, such appointments should be treated as void.
Mr. Divan said: "In August 2005, Justice Ashok Kumar was not appointed permanent judge of the Madras High Court though six of his junior additional judges were appointed permanent judges. In 2007, he was appointed permanent judge by the Chief Justice of India disregarding the procedure set out in the MoU, viz. consultation with two seniormost judges of the Supreme Court."
He said though future cases were required to be considered, the case of Justice Ashok Kumar also should be gone into.
No explicit direction
The Additional Solicitor-General, quoting an apex court judgment, said there was no explicit direction that in appointing an additional judge of a High Court permanent judge, the Chief Justice of India should consult two other judges in the collegium though such a procedure was followed in the initial appointment of a person as additional judge.
In its affidavit, the Centre said: "From January 1, 1999 to July 31, 2007, a total of 351 additional judges were appointed permanent judges; in these cases the Supreme Court collegium was not consulted.
"The records indicate that successive CJIs have not consulted the collegium while considering the cases of appointment of additional judges as permanent judges."
The Additional Solicitor-General said the apex court could consider laying down guidelines for the appointment of additional judges as permanent judges.