‘DMK threatened central government over judge appointment’

May 7th, 2008 - 11:00 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party had threatened to destabilise the central government if the services of Justice A. Ashok Kumar were not confirmed as a Madras High Court judge, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan told the Supreme Court Wednesday. Bhushan told a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P. Sathashivam, hearing his public interest lawsuit questioning the appointment of Justice Kumar, that after the collegium headed by former chief justice R.C. Lahoti refused to confirm Kumar’s services and make him a permanent judge from the additional judge of the high court in 2005, the DMK forced the central government to persuade the collegium to confirm his services.

Yet resisting the government pressure, the collegium, also comprising then Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justice Ruma Pal, refused to confirm Justice Kumar’s services, said Bhushan.

However, his services as an additional judge were extended for two years.

Bhushan told the apex court that the erstwhile collegium was averse to confirming Justice Kumar’s services due to an adverse intelligence report against him.

He urged the court to summon all government documents related to the matter. Conceding to the request, the bench asked the government to submit to it all documents related to the appointment of Justice Kumar.

Making submission on behalf petitioner Indira Jaisingh, senior advocate Anil Dewan said: “As an officer of the court, it’s my duty to uphold the majesty of the judiciary. We the members of the bar draw our prestige from that of the bench itself.”

To this the bench observed: “We will be the last person to do anything to harm the reputation of the judiciary. Today we may be the judge, but tomorrow when we are not, we will still be respected because of the prestige of the judiciary.”

The bench adjourned the case for further hearing beyond the court’s forthcoming summer vacation, beginning next Friday.

Bhushan in his petition has alleged that Justice Kumar was made a permanent judge of the high court despite having “adverse intelligence input” against him.

Bhushan also contended that Justice Kumar was made permanent by the present chief justice though the apex court’s collegium had serious reservation.

Taking note of the allegation, Justice Pasayat last August sought an elaborate affidavit from the central government, detailing the exact number of high court judges made permanent since 1999 on the recommendations of successive chief justices alone and on those of the collegium.

The government in its affidavit told the court that a total of 351 additional judges of various high courts were made permanent between January 1999 and 2007 by the successive chief justices, and in no case did the chief justice ever consult the collegium.

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