Collegium rejected HC judge’s appointment, but UPA government pushed it: Prasad
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court collegium was initially
hesitant to recommend extension of a Madras High Court judge who was under
corruption cloud but did so later after a nudge from the UPA government, Law
Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed in Parliament amid furore created by
AIADMK members for the second day on Tuesday.
Prasad said in 2003, the collegium had “certain
reservations” and had made some enquiries and decided that the case of this
judge should not be taken up. But later during the UPA rule, a clarification
was sought by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as to why he should not be
recommended, the minister said in the Lok Sabha.
The collegium again said he should not have been
recommended at all, he said. Later, the Department of Justice in the Law
Ministry wrote a note to the collegium following which it said that his case
can be considered for some extension, Prasad said, adding the matter stood
“…on July 16, 2005 to be precise, again a note went
from the then Department of Justice with the approval of the then Law Minister
indicating about certain sensitivity. Thereafter, a call was taken by the
collegium that his case can be considered for some extension and he was made
permanent,” he said.
The Law Minister said the judge has since retired and
was no more now. The judges of the collegium have also retired. Quoting Supreme
Court’s observation in Shanti Bhushan case, he remarked the “clock cannot be
put back”. His response came after an uproar over the issue forced two
adjournments of the Lok Sabha as agitated AIADMK members stormed the well
demanding that the name of the then DMK minister who “pressurised” the UPA
government to confirm the appointment of controversial judge be made public.
The Rajya Sabha also saw disruption on the issue, with
AIADMK and DMK members clashing on the matter when it assembled for the day
leading to a brief adjournment.
The concern raised by the AIADMK members was well
appreciated and there is imperative need to improve the system of judges
appointment, Prasad said, adding the government was “quite keen” to appoint a
National Judicial Commission for making such appointments.