NEW DELHI: Showing the mirror to the Supreme Court collegium on nepotism cases in proposals for judgeship, the Centre has for the first time mentioned relationships of advocates with sitting and retired HC and apex court judges in at least 11 instances among 33 recommendations for the Allahabad HC.
The government has forwarded the list of
33 advocates for judgeship
, recommended by the Allahabad HC collegium in February, with its own findings to the apex court Collegium after a rigorous evaluation of their competence. The evaluation of the candidates involved scrunity of their reported judgements, reputation in the legal fraternity both personal as well as professional and overall competence.
However, in a rare move, the government this time has also mentioned relations of many of these candidates with the sitting and retired judges, making a point for the apex court collegium to disregard all such recommendations and create a level playing field for other competent advocates to make the grade.
A similar recommendation made by the Allahabad HC collegium two years ago when it had sent names of 30 advocates had led to the then chief justice of India, TS Thakur, rejecting candidature of 11 lawyers and recommending only 19 to the government for appointment as HC judges. The 2016 list was also packed with kith and kin of judges and politicians.
TOI had reported on March 12
how the list sent by the Allahabad HC collegium consisted of close relatives of judges, including the brother-in-law of a sitting SC judge, a first cousin of another SC judge besides sons and nephews of several former judges of the apex court and the Allahabad HC. TOI had held back the names as the government was yet to complete its background checks. In all, at least 11 advocates in the list of 33 are said to be related to former or sitting judges, besides a senior advocate who is allegedly the law partner of the wife of a senior politician in Delhi.
TOI had again reported on April 15 that the case of “nepotism” was taken to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Union Law ministry through multiple complaints generated from the bar associations of the Allahabad HC seeking a level playing field.
Interestingly, after a thorough examination of the candidates in the present set of recommendations, the government has found not more than 11-12 advocates competent to be made judges of the country’s largest high court. Sources said serious efforts have been made to evaluate each and every recommendation by scrutinising their eligibility.
Sources said the list sent by the Allahabad HC collegium in February has negligible representation of the SC/ST, OBC and minority community, overflowing with upper caste dominance with one particular community having more than half-a-dozen candidates, something the Centre has also highlighted to the apex court collegium. In the three lists of more than 83 recommendations made by the Allahabad HC since 2015, very few belonged to OBC/SC/ST, women or the minority community.