The Committee on Judicial Accountability (CJA) has expressed concern at the government returning the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium for elevation of Allahabad High Court Chief Justice C.K. Prasad to the Supreme Court on the ground that it was made without proper verification.

This is the second time it has returned the file, the first being the case of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran, whose elevation has been kept in abeyance, the CIA pointed out in a statement signed by senior lawyers Ram Jethmalani, Shanti Bhushan, Fali Nariman, Anil Divan, Kamini Jaiswal and Prashant Bhushan.

Of the two names recommended by the collegium, the government approved the promotion of Justice Swatanter Kumar, who was sworn in Supreme Court judge on Friday. In the case of Justice Prasad, it returned the file seeking certain clarifications.

The statement said: “In Justice Dinakaran’s case, some of the allegations against him have subsequently been confirmed by the District Magistrate [of Tiruvallur in Tamil Nadu], leading to an impeachment motion against him which has been admitted by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. We are disturbed that [in the case of Justice Prasad also] recommendations have been made without any transparency and without proper verification of the antecedents and reputation of those recommended.”

The CJA said: “The committee strongly feels that responsible members of the Bar of the concerned High Courts should be consulted before the collegium makes any recommendation. Pending the constitution of a full-time National Judicial Appointments Commission, we urge the collegium to fashion after a public debate, an open, accountable and participatory procedure for making recommendations for judicial appointments; and not to recommend persons until the names have been made public, and members of the Bar and the public are enabled to share the relevant information that they might have about the proposed appointees with the collegium.”

The All-India Lawyers Union, at a recent convention, stressed the urgency of establishing an independent National Judicial Commission. General secretary D.K. Agarwal, decrying the bureaucratic composition of the much trumpeted Vision Statement of the Law Minister, where neither the Bar nor consumers of justice were included, wondered how the envisaged National Arrears Grid could achieve its objective.

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