The Madras High Court Advocates Association while expressing serious concern over the lack of transparency in the procedure of appointment of judges has urged Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam to return the entire list of 15 names for fresh consideration by the Collegium of the Madras High Court after a permanent Chief Justice has been appointed.

In a representation to the CJI and members of the Supreme Court collegium of Judges, the MHAA said, “We once again write to express our deep concern on the issue of appointment of judges to the large number of vacancies in the Madras High Court. You are well aware that several representations have already been sent in this regard voicing the concerns of the Bar about the list of 15 names recommended, which do not measure up to any standards. We have had no response in this regard.”

The representation further said, “The Bar has expressed its strong reservations to the list on the ground that many of the persons recommended do not enjoy good reputation. Our fears are now confirmed by the reports that the IB report in respect of three of the persons whose names have been recommended is negative. It is also learnt that the State has expressed its objection to 10 out of the 15 names. It is unfortunate that the repeated demands of the Bar to make the process transparent so that the Bar could offer their opinion were ignored.”

The MHAA said, “It is reliably learnt that a list of 30-35 lawyers was prepared so that the final selection can be made by the Collegium of the Madras High Court from among this pool of lawyers identified after detailed scrutiny by the senior judges of the Madras High Court. The final list of 15 names recommended has come as a shock to everybody as this list reportedly is not part of the identified pool.”

It said, “These are further strengthened by yet another disturbing aspect of this selection viz. the recommendations have been made by an Acting Chief Justice who is awaiting permanent appointment as a Chief Justice of a High Court. In a judgment of Union of India vs. Syad Sarwar Ali, the Supreme Court has held that an Acting Chief Justice, appointed under Article 223 of the Constitution, cannot be equated with the Chief Justice appointed under Article 217 .”

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