Say it will amount to “importing a stranger” from outside

With 14 posts of Judges in the Madras High Court yet to be filled, advocates have opposed a move to appoint three advocates practising in the Supreme Court to the High Court.

If the request of the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCARA) is granted, it will amount to “importing a stranger” from outside. This would demoralise and derail the very system, they said.

At present, the strength of the Madras High Court is 46, against the sanctioned strength of 60. On October 25, seven persons were sworn in as Additional Judges.

The Madras High Court Advocates’ Association (MHAA), led by R.C. Paul Kanagaraj, at its extraordinary general body meeting on Thursday, has expressed serious concern over the move as “it would completely distort the present selection process.” According to the association, the present system of collegium selecting candidates for appointment of Judges is best suited to assess the legal acumen, competency and desirability of an advocate who appeared before the Judges. The Chief Justice’s opinion was accorded primacy.

Often, other Judges and senior advocates were consulted before selecting a person. A candidate’s antecedents were verified and the Bar also provided information to the collegium about a candidate. In this situation, among other questions, the association wanted to know how the High Court collegium would assess the competency and desirability of the three persons. Another difficulty was that the collegium may not have personal knowledge of the candidates. The association reiterated its request that the names of those being considered for Judges’ post should be disclosed. The appointments should be done in a transparent manner. Representation should be given to all sections of society, including minorities and women. The Women Lawyers Association has echoed similar views.

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