Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has stayed all further proceedings pending in the Allahabad High Court on a petition challenging the appointment of Satish Chandra as judge of the High Court from August.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices V.S. Sirpurkar and P. Sathasivam on Friday stayed the direction issued to the Registrar to furnish a report of the High Court collegium recommending the appointment. It issued notice to the Centre and advocate Mahesh Chandra Gupta, who challenged the appointment, saying Mr. Chandra lacked the essential qualification. His response was also sought.

The Bench was hearing an urgent petition filed by the Registrar who challenged the order passed by the High Court in its judicial side, contending that its Division Bench had exceeded its jurisdiction.

The High Court, in its interim order, had directed the High Court (administrative side) to place before it the report of the committee which made a recommendation to the collegium, consisting of the Chief Justice and two seniormost judges, to appoint Mr. Chandra judge.

Only eligibility challenged

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the High Court Registrar, said that when only eligibility was challenged how could the court seek the records of the collegium and a sub-committee on the consultation process on the appointment. The law on appointment of judges was settled and the proceedings of a collegium and its confidential report could not be a matter of judicial review.

Counsel said it was a serious matter as the steps taken by the High Court amounted to a judicial review of the decision on appointment of a judge. “How can the collegium report be sought? Then we are going into the merits of the decision,” he said and prayed for quashing the High Court’s order and an interim stay of its operation.