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Friday, March 7, 2014

The collegium of the Madras High Court consisting of the Hon’ble Chief Justice and two senior most Judges vide Resolution dated 12.12.2013 recommended a list of 12 persons comprising of ten advocates and two District Judges for consideration by the collegium of Supreme Court for appointment as Judges of the Madras High Court. - D.B. bench passed interim orders - supreme court collegium return the list to the High court - Apex court held that Judicial review is permissible only on assessment of eligibility and not on suitability. and further held that In such a fact-situation, the writ petitioners or the members of the Bar could approach Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India; or the Hon’ble Law Minister, but instead of resorting to such a procedure, the writ petitioners had adopted an unwarranted short cut knowing it fully well that on the ground of the suitability, the writ petitions were not maintainable.= Registrar General, High Court of Madras …Petitioner Versus R. Gandhi & Ors. …Respondent = 2014 (March . Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41297

The collegium of the Madras High Court consisting of the Hon’ble Chief Justice  and  two  senior  most  Judges  vide  Resolution  dated 12.12.2013  recommended  a  list  of  12  persons  comprising  of  ten advocates and two District Judges for consideration by  the  collegium
 of Supreme Court for appointment as Judges of the Madras  High  Court. - D.B. bench passed interim orders - supreme court collegium return the list to the High court - Apex court held that Judicial review is permissible only  on assessment of eligibility and not on suitability.   and further held that In such a fact-situation, the writ petitioners or the members of the Bar could approach Hon’ble the Chief  Justice  of  India;  or  the Hon’ble Law Minister, but instead of resorting to  such  a  procedure,  the writ petitioners had adopted an unwarranted short cut  knowing  it fully well that on the ground of the suitability, the  writ  petitions were  not maintainable.=
          

The writ petitioner, Mr. R. Gandhi, Senior Advocate, filed  Writ
      Petition No. 375 of 2014  before  the  Madras  High  Court  seeking  a
      direction to the Union of India and the  Supreme  Court  collegium  to
      return the said list as the recommendees therein were not suitable  as
      per the assessment of the writ petitioner and other members of the Bar
      for elevation. More so, the  collegium  of  the  High  Court  did  not
      recommend the name of the eligible advocates  belonging  to  different
      castes. The Hon’ble Chief Justice and first senior most Judge did  not
      hail originally from Tamil Nadu so they were unable to understand  and
      appreciate the complex social structure of the State of Tamil Nadu.  =

D.B. entertained the writ and order two interim order pending writ 
According
      to the first order, an interim  direction  was  issued  directing  the
      Ministry of Law and Justice,  Government  of  India  to  maintain  the
      status quo, 
while the order dated 9.1.2014 restrained  the  Government
      of Tamil Nadu from  making  any  recommendation  in  this  regard  and
      further to maintain the status quo till 21.1.2014.

The issue of selection and elevation to the  office  of  a  High
      Court Judge has engaged the attention of this Court. The issue of such
      selection  reflecting  transparency,  objectivity  and  constitutional
      sustainability has engaged the attention  of  this  Court  since  this
      cause came to be espoused and dealt with by a nine-Judge Bench of this
      Court in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Assn. v.  Union  of  India,
      (1993) 4 SCC 441, more particularly known as Second Judges case.
            The said decision also became a subject matter of a Presidential
      Reference being Special Reference No.1 of 1998 that was answered again
      by a nine-Judge Bench reported in (1998) 7 SCC 739.


      2.    One of the issues involved in  both  these  decisions  has  been
      issue of judicial review of appointments as a High Court  Judge  or  a
      Supreme Court Judge. The Second Judges case  (supra)  answered  it  in
      paragraphs 480 to 482  of  the  aforesaid  decision  and  the  Special
      Reference also answered the same  emphasising  the  limited  scope  of
      judicial  review   and   restrained   the   justiciability   of   such
      recommendations and appointment of Judges.


      3.    More recently, the issue with regard to the elevation of a  High
      Court  Judge  on  a  recommendation  of  the  collegium  came  to   be
      scrutinised in a challenge raised before the Allahabad High Court that
      came to be finally decided by this Court in Mahesh  Chandra  Gupta  v.
      Union of India (2009) 8 SCC 273. It was again held  therein  following
      the aforesaid decisions that suitability of  a  recommendee   and  the
      consultation are not subject to judicial review but the issue of  lack
      of eligibility or an effective consultation  can  be  scrutinised  for
      which a writ of quo warranto would lie.
When  the  matter  came  up  for  hearing  on  18.2.2014,  Shri
      Prabhakaran, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf  of  the  writ
      petitioner made a statement  that  the  Supreme  Court  collegium  had
      returned the entire list to the Madras High Court for reconsideration,
      the  matter  rendered  infructuous.   The  Court  passed   the   order
      dismissing the Writ Petition as having  become  infructuous.
 Shri L.N. Rao, learned Additional  Solicitor  General  appearing
      for the Supreme Court, has submitted that the Supreme Court  collegium
      vide Resolution  dated  13.2.2014  has  returned  the  whole  list  of
      advocates as well as of the judicial officers, with intimation to  the
      Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Governor of State of Tamil Nadu with an
      observation that the new Chief Justice of Madras  High  Court  as  and
      when appointed, would re-look into the matter and send recommendations
      in consultation with two senior  most  colleagues  after  taking  into
      consideration all the relevant facts.  Thus, in view of the subsequent
      developments nothing survives to be decided.
SUMMARY OF THE CONCLUSIONS
              486. A  brief  general  summary  of  the  conclusions  stated
           earlier in detail is given for convenience, as under:
              ….
              ….
                (3)  In  the  event  of   conflicting   opinions   by   the
           constitutional  functionaries,  the  opinion  of  the  judiciary
           ‘symbolised by the view of the  Chief  Justice  of  India’,  and
           formed in the manner indicated, has primacy.
              (4) No appointment of any Judge to the Supreme Court  or  any
           High Court can be made, unless it  is  in  conformity  with  the
           opinion     of     the     Chief     Justice     of      India.”
                                 (emphasis supplied)


      19.   In Special Reference No. 1 of 1998 (supra),  this Court held:
              “32. Judicial review in the  case  of  an  appointment  or  a
           recommended appointment, to the Supreme Court or  a  High  Court
           is, therefore, available if the recommendation concerned is  not
           a decision of the Chief Justice  of  India  and  his  seniormost
           colleagues, which is  constitutionally  requisite.  They  number
           four in the case of a  recommendation  for  appointment  to  the
           Supreme Court and two  in  the  case  of  a  recommendation  for
           appointment to a High Court. Judicial review is  also  available
           if, in making the decision, the views of the seniormost  Supreme
           Court Judge who comes  from  the  High  Court  of  the  proposed
           appointee to the Supreme Court have not been taken into account.
           Similarly, if in connection with an appointment or a recommended
           appointment to a High Court, the views of the Chief Justice  and
           senior Judges of the High Court, as aforestated, and of  Supreme
           Court Judges knowledgeable about that High Court have  not  been
           sought or considered by the Chief Justice of India and  his  two
           seniormost puisne Judges, judicial review is available. Judicial
           review is also available when the appointee  is  found  to  lack
           eligibility.”

      (emphasis supplied)
Thus, it is apparent that judicial review is permissible only  on
      assessment of eligibility and not on suitability.  It is  not  a  case
      where the writ petitioners could not wait till  the  maturity  of  the
      cause i.e.  decision of  the collegium of  this  Court.  They  took  a
      premature step by filing  writ petitions seeking a direction to  Union
      of India to return the list sent by the collegium of the  Madras  High
      Court without further waiting its consideration by the  Supreme  Court
      collegium.   Even  after  the   President   of   India   accepts   the
      recommendations and warrants of appointment are issued, the  Court  is
      competent to quash the warrant as has been done in this case  of  Shri
      Kumar Padma Prasad v. Union of India & Ors., AIR 1992 SC 1213  wherein
      the recommendee was found not possessing eligibility for the elevation
      to the High Court as per Article 217(2).  This case goes to show  that
      that  even  when  the  President,  has  appointed  a   person   to   a
      constitutional office, the qualification of that person to  hold  that
      office can be examined in quo warranto proceedings and the appointment
      can be quashed. (See also: B.R. Kapur v. State of Tamil Nadu  &  Anr.,
      AIR 2001 SC 3435).


      21.   In such a fact-situation, the writ petitioners or the members of
      the Bar could approach Hon’ble the Chief  Justice  of  India;  or  the
      Hon’ble Law Minister, but instead of resorting to  such  a  procedure,
      the writ petitioners had adopted an unwarranted short cut  knowing  it
      fully well that on the ground of the suitability, the  writ  petitions
      were  not maintainable.
           We appreciate the fair stand taken by Shri Prabhakaran,  learned
      senior counsel before this Court that suitability cannot be a  subject
      matter of judicial review.


      22.   In view of the above, the transferred cases stand  disposed  of.
      The Writ Petition Nos. 375, 1082 and 1119  of  2014  and  all  matters
      relating to this case instituted before  the  Madras  High  Court  are
      disposed of accordingly.

 2014 (March . Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41297
B.S. CHAUHAN, J. CHELAMESWAR, M.Y. EQBAL
                                                             REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE  JURISDICTION


                SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (C) NOs. 892-893/2014


      Registrar General, High Court of Madras
      …Petitioner


                             Versus


      R.                 Gandhi                 &                 Ors.
      …Respondent
                                    WITH




               TRANSFERRED  CASE (CIVIL) NO. 31 OF 2014
         (Arising out of WP (C) No. 375/2014 pending in Madras High
                                   Court)


                                    WITH




                TRANSFERRED CASE (CIVIL) NO. 29 & 30 OF 2014
          (Arising out of TP(C) NOS.  383 & 384 /2014(D.3826/2014)




      High    Court     of     Madras     by     Registrar     General
      …Petitioner




                                   Versus


      P. Rathiram  & Ors.                               …Respondents


                               J U D G M E N T


      Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.


      1.    The issue of selection and elevation to the  office  of  a  High
      Court Judge has engaged the attention of this Court. The issue of such
      selection  reflecting  transparency,  objectivity  and  constitutional
      sustainability has engaged the attention  of  this  Court  since  this
      cause came to be espoused and dealt with by a nine-Judge Bench of this
      Court in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Assn. v.  Union  of  India,
      (1993) 4 SCC 441, more particularly known as Second Judges case.
            The said decision also became a subject matter of a Presidential
      Reference being Special Reference No.1 of 1998 that was answered again
      by a nine-Judge Bench reported in (1998) 7 SCC 739.


      2.    One of the issues involved in  both  these  decisions  has  been
      issue of judicial review of appointments as a High Court  Judge  or  a
      Supreme Court Judge. The Second Judges case  (supra)  answered  it  in
      paragraphs 480 to 482  of  the  aforesaid  decision  and  the  Special
      Reference also answered the same  emphasising  the  limited  scope  of
      judicial  review   and   restrained   the   justiciability   of   such
      recommendations and appointment of Judges.


      3.    More recently, the issue with regard to the elevation of a  High
      Court  Judge  on  a  recommendation  of  the  collegium  came  to   be
      scrutinised in a challenge raised before the Allahabad High Court that
      came to be finally decided by this Court in Mahesh  Chandra  Gupta  v.
      Union of India (2009) 8 SCC 273. It was again held  therein  following
      the aforesaid decisions that suitability of  a  recommendee   and  the
      consultation are not subject to judicial review but the issue of  lack
      of eligibility or an effective consultation  can  be  scrutinised  for
      which a writ of quo warranto would lie.


      4.    In the aforesaid backdrop, the  present  petitions  came  to  be
      entertained questioning the orders of  the  Madras  High  Court  dated
      8.1.2014 and 9.1.2014 by which and whereunder the  Madras  High  Court
      entertained writ petitions  and  passed  interim  orders  to  maintain
      status quo regarding the process of recommendation of 12 aspirants  to
      the aforesaid office after the Chief Justice of the Madras High  Court
      had forwarded the said recommendations to the Supreme Court  collegium
      for consideration. The  restraint  order  also  directed  the  various
      constitutional authorities including  the  State  Government  and  the
      Union Government  to  act  accordingly  as  the  prayer  made  in  the
      petitions was to return back the  recommendations  on  the  allegation
      that the recommendations were not  in  conformity  with  an  effective
      consultative  process  and  that  they  were  otherwise  for   reasons
      disclosed unacceptable.


      5.    This Court vide order dated 13.1.2014  entertained  the  Special
      Leave Petitions (Civil) Nos. 892-893 of 2014 filed by the Madras  High
      Court against the orders passed by the Madras High Court  on  8.1.2014
      and 9.1.2014 in Writ Petition No. 375 of 2014,  restraining  the  High
      Court to proceed with the hearing of the said writ petition and issued
      suo motu  show  cause  as  to  why  the  said  writ  petition  be  not
      transferred for  hearing  to  this  court.  It  appears  that  in  the
      meanwhile, Writ Petition No. 1082/2014  titled  S.  Doraisamy  v.  The
      Registrar General, Supreme Court of India & Ors. and Writ Petition No.
      1119/2014 titled P. Rathinam v. Union of India &  Ors.,  dealing  with
      the same subject matter had also been filed  before  the  Madras  High
      Court. The Madras High Court preferred transfer petitions to  transfer
      the said two writ  petitions  to  this  court  for  hearing  alongwith
      transferred case arising out of WP (C) No. 375/2014.
           Permission to file TP  (C)  arising  out  of  D.No.3826/2014  is
      granted. We allow the transfer petitions and all the  three  aforesaid
      writ petitions stand transferred to this Court.
            Thus, in view thereof, the Special Leave Petitions (C) Nos. 892-
      893/2014 have become insignificant and stand disposed of  accordingly.


      6.    The facts and circumstances  giving  rise  to  these  cases  are
      that:
      A.    The collegium of the Madras High Court consisting of the Hon’ble
      Chief Justice  and  two  senior  most  Judges  vide  Resolution  dated
      12.12.2013  recommended  a  list  of  12  persons  comprising  of  ten
      advocates and two District Judges for consideration by  the  collegium
      of Supreme Court for appointment as Judges of the Madras  High  Court.
      The said list was forwarded  to  the  Ministry  of  Law  and  Justice,
      Government of India, the Supreme Court of India  as  well  as  to  the
      Government of Tamil Nadu on 14.12.2013 as required under the law.


      B.    The writ petitioner, Mr. R. Gandhi, Senior Advocate, filed  Writ
      Petition No. 375 of 2014  before  the  Madras  High  Court  seeking  a
      direction to the Union of India and the  Supreme  Court  collegium  to
      return the said list as the recommendees therein were not suitable  as
      per the assessment of the writ petitioner and other members of the Bar
      for elevation. More so, the  collegium  of  the  High  Court  did  not
      recommend the name of the eligible advocates  belonging  to  different
      castes. The Hon’ble Chief Justice and first senior most Judge did  not
      hail originally from Tamil Nadu so they were unable to understand  and
      appreciate the complex social structure of the State of Tamil Nadu.
      C.    The Division Bench of the Madras High Court entertained the writ
      petition and passed the orders dated 8.1.2014 and 9.1.2014.  According
      to the first order, an interim  direction  was  issued  directing  the
      Ministry of Law and Justice,  Government  of  India  to  maintain  the
      status quo, while the order dated 9.1.2014 restrained  the  Government
      of Tamil Nadu from  making  any  recommendation  in  this  regard  and
      further to maintain the status quo till 21.1.2014.


      D.    Aggrieved, the  Madras  High  Court  through  Registrar  General
      preferred Special Leave Petition (C) Nos.  892-893  of  2014,  wherein
      after  hearing  the  learned  Attorney  General,  appearing  for   the
      petitioner – High Court, this Court on 13.1.2014 passed the  following
      order: ?
           “Mr. G.E.  Vahanvati,  learned  Attorney  General  appearing  on
           behalf of the petitioner has  submitted  that  the  Madras  High
           Court in the impugned judgments itself, has taken  note  of  the
           judgment of this Court in Mahesh  Chandra  Gupta  vs.  Union  of
           India, 2009 (8)  SCC  273,  wherein  it  has  been  ?quoted  that
           judicial review is not permissible on the ground of  suitability
           of the candidate whose name has been recommended, therefore, the
           High Court ought not to have entertained the petition.
                 Secondly, it has been submitted that one  of  the  Hon'ble
           Judge has entered into the Court and made certain suggestions to
           the Bench hearing the case and there had been commotion  in  the
           Court, therefore, there is no  conducive  atmosphere  where  the
           matter should be permitted to be continued with  the  said  High
           Court.
                 In view of the  above,  issue  notice  to  the  respondents
           returnable in two weeks as  to  why  this  case  should  not  be
           transferred to this Court and heard by a Bench of minimum  three
           judges. In  addition  to  the  normal  mode  of  service,  dasti
           service, is permitted.
                 Meanwhile, the High Court is restrained to proceed  further
           with the matter in W.P.No.375/2014 and the interim order  passed
           by the High Court to maintain status quo regarding  the  process
           of the recommendations stands vacated for the reason that it was
           merely a recommendation and the said recommendation  has  to  be
           filtered at various levels and it will take a long time.
                 List after two weeks.”


      E.     When  the  matter  came  up  for  hearing  on  18.2.2014,  Shri
      Prabhakaran, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf  of  the  writ
      petitioner made a statement  that  the  Supreme  Court  collegium  had
      returned the entire list to the Madras High Court for reconsideration,
      the  matter  rendered  infructuous.   The  Court  passed   the   order
      dismissing the Writ Petition as having  become  infructuous.  However,
      since  two other writ petitions had already been filed in  the  Madras
      High Court with respect to the same subject  matter,  the  High  Court
      filed the transfer petitions.  Some of the learned  counsel  appearing
      in these cases suggested that the  matter  required  to  be  heard  on
      merit.  As the order passed earlier had not been  signed,  the  matter
      was adjourned to be listed for hearing on 25.2.2014.


      7.    When the matter came on Board on 25.2.2014, the learned Attorney
      General and other Advocates appearing in  these  cases  insisted  that
      matters must be heard at least to decide the issue of  maintainability
      otherwise in future, it would be impossible to complete the process of
      appointment of Judges in the High  Court,  particularly  when  sitting
      Judges of the High Court also have started appearing before the  Bench
      hearing  the  case  in  support  of  the  contentions  of   the   writ
      petitioners.


      8.    Shri Prabhakaran, learned senior counsel, has submitted that the
      advocates - recommendees were not suitable for appointment as a  Judge
      of the Madras High Court; and the collegium  failed  to  consider  the
      various other eligible and suitable advocates  practicing  before  the
      Madras High Court having different social backgrounds. In a democratic
      set-up, it is the sharing of  the  power  and  all  citizens  of  this
      country irrespective of any caste  or  creed,  who  are  eligible  and
      suitable for the post, have a right to be considered for  appointment.
      The collegium has a “duty”  to  consider  the  eligible  and  suitable
      Advocates belonging to all sections of the  society  to  ensure  wider
      representation. It may have a  larger  social  dimensions  if  certain
      segments of society are not adequately represented on the  Bench.  The
      ethos of pluralistic democracy or  diverse  unequal  India  should  be
      humane, tolerant  and  reminiscent,  yet  balancing  the  contemporary
      realities which in the case are agitated on the  lines  of  caste  and
      their inclusion in mainstream of public life. The spirit  of  equality
      pervades the provisions of the Constitution,  as the main aim  of  the
      founders of the Constitution was  to  create  an  egalitarian  society
      wherein social, economic and political justice prevail and equality of
      status and opportunity  are  made  available  to  all.  However,  Shri
      Prabhakaran, learned Senior counsel still insisted that writ petitions
      be dismissed as having become infructuous because  of  the  subsequent
      developments as referred to hereinabove.


      9.    Shri G.E. Vahanvati, learned Attorney General of India and  Shri
      Mohan Parasaran, learned Solicitor General of  India,  have  contended
      that judicial review on assessing the suitability is not provided  for
      as it is restricted only to the eligibility. As there is no  challenge
      to the fact that there had been a proper consultation by  the  Hon’ble
      Chief Justice of Madras High Court alongwith his other Judges  members
      of the collegium, such judicial review is  uncalled  for.    The  writ
      petition is not maintainable and the High Court has committed an error
      not only in entertaining the  writ  petition  but  also  granting  the
      interim relief.  The writ petitioner has neither applied for  issuance
      of Writ of Quo Warranto nor Writ of Certiorari, nor could there be any
      question of filing any writ petition as only the  recommendations  for
      consideration of certain names have been made.   The  allegation  that
      none of the recommendees has any work in court, was not correct as the
      incomes shown by some of them have been quite  substantial  indicating
      roaring  practice.  The  perpetuation  of  casteism  continues  social
      tyranny of ages. The chart filed  by  the  writ  petitioner  of  those
      recommendees also made it clear that they represented all  the  social
      backgrounds equitably since upper caste,  minority  and  other  social
      affiliations have been duly represented. No advocate has a right to be
      considered for being appointed as a judge. More so, there  can  be  no
      reservation for a community in selection of a judge. Even  in  service
      jurisprudence, reservation cannot be claimed at the cost of compromise
      to efficiency of administration. Therefore, the petition is liable  to
      be dismissed.


      10.   Shri L.N. Rao, learned Additional  Solicitor  General  appearing
      for the Supreme Court, has submitted that the Supreme Court  collegium
      vide Resolution  dated  13.2.2014  has  returned  the  whole  list  of
      advocates as well as of the judicial officers, with intimation to  the
      Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Governor of State of Tamil Nadu with an
      observation that the new Chief Justice of Madras  High  Court  as  and
      when appointed, would re-look into the matter and send recommendations
      in consultation with two senior  most  colleagues  after  taking  into
      consideration all the relevant facts.  Thus, in view of the subsequent
      developments nothing survives to be decided.


      11.   The learned Attorney General tried to persuade us to decide  the
      other relevant issues also.  However, in view of  the  aforesaid  view
      that judicial review does not lie on assessment of  suitability  of  a
      recommendee, we are not inclined to deal with it.  But it is  needless
      to emphasise that the question of an effective representation  on  the
      Bench and the qualitative assessment of elevations are not only to  be
      governed by the magnitude of the practice of  a  lawyer  or  only  his
      social or  legal  background.  These  are  factors  to  be  considered
      alongwith the other qualities of  intellect  and  character  including
      integrity, patience, temper  and  resilience.  The  wisdom  and  legal
      learning of a particular individual coming from  a  particular  social
      background may  have  leanings  and  individual  judges  are  not  un-
      afflicted  by  their  notions  of  social,  economic   and   political
      philosophy, but such matters fall within the realm of  suitability  to
      be considered by the collegium making recommendations or accepting the
      same for appointment as a Judge. The issue of a  broad  representation
      has also to be looked into from the point of view that it is necessary
      to ensure that a more representative Bench does not become a less able
      Bench.


      12.   Appointments cannot be exclusively made from any isolated  group
      nor should  it  be  pre-dominated  by  representing  a  narrow  group.
      Diversity therefore in judicial  appointments  to  pick  up  the  best
      legally trained minds coupled with a qualitative personality, are  the
      guiding factors that deserve  to  be  observed  uninfluenced  by  mere
      considerations of individual opinions. It  is  for  this  reason  that
      collective  consultative  process  as  enunciated  in  the   aforesaid
      decisions has been  held  to  be  an  inbuilt  mechanism  against  any
      arbitrariness.


      13.   The proceedings before the Division Bench  of  the  Madras  High
      Court that passed the interim orders were noticed by us while vacating
      the same, and the conduct of a sitting Judge raised a negative  murmur
      about the maintenance of propriety in judicial proceedings. The sudden
      unfamiliar incident made us fume inwardly on this  raw  unconventional
      protest that was unexpected, uncharitable and ungenerous, and  to  say
      the least it was indecorous. In ordinary life such incidents  are  not
      reviewed with benevolence or generosity, but  here  we  are  concerned
      with a larger constitutional issue of the justiciability of the cause.
      We have already indicated that the cause and its contents were  beyond
      the pale of scrutiny in the light of the decisions of this Court noted
      by us and therefore it is not  necessary  to  respond  to  the  above-
      mentioned unusual circumstances.


      14.   Additionally, we find that the learned  Judge  was  not  made  a
      party to the proceedings by the  Division  Bench  of  the  High  Court
      before it nor have we accepted the oral prayer  to  that  effect.  The
      exceptional personal conduct of the learned Judge does not require any
      judicial response for  investigating  the  unusual  circumstances  and
      scrutinising the same as it is not necessary to decide  the  issue  at
      hand which can be otherwise disposed off in the  manner  as  indicated
      herein. The learned Judge may have found himself caught in a  conflict
      of class or caste structure and it appears that matured patience might
      have given way to injure rules of protocol, but that is not the  issue
      that has to be answered by us. Such aspects may require a more serious
      judicial assessment if required in future and therefore this  question
      is left entirely open.




      15.   It is said that immense dignity is expected, and  weaknesses  or
      personal notions should not  be  exposed  so  as  to  affect  judicial
      proceedings. Judges cannot be governed, nor their decisions should  be
      affected, only  by  the  obvious,   as  proceedings  in  a  court  are
      conducted by  taking  judicial  notice  of  such  facts  that  may  be
      necessary to decide  an  issue.  It  is  for  this  reason,  that  the
      paramount principle of impartiality that is to  be  available  in  the
      character of a Judge has been  humbly expounded  by  none  other  than
      Justice Felix Frankfurter in the following words:
           “A good Judge needs to have three qualities, each  of  which  is
           disinterestedness.” (of Law  and  Life  and  other  things  that
           Matter edited by Philip B. Kurland, 1965 Pg.75)


            With the above observations and  dignified  reluctance  touching
      disapproval, we leave this matter  for  any  future  milestone  to  be
      covered appropriately.


      16.   Three applications have been  filed  for  impleadment,  however,
      this Court allowed those applicants only to intervene and  make  their
      submissions on legal issues without impleading any of them.


            In view thereof, Shri P.H. Parekh, learned  senior  counsel  and
      President of Supreme  Court  Bar  Association  duly  assisted  by  Ms.
      Aishwarya Bhati, Ms. Mahalakshmi  Pavani  and  Shri  Chander  Prakash,
      learned counsel,  have  also  advanced  their  arguments,  on  various
      issues, inter-alia, maintainability of the writ petitions.


      17.   Be that as it  may,  facts  and  circumstances  of  these  cases
      warrant examination of the issue of maintainability at the  threshold.


            In  Mahesh Chandra Gupta (supra), this Court observed:
              “39. At this stage, we may  state  that,  there  is  a  basic
           difference between “eligibility” and “suitability”. The  process
           of judging the fitness of a person to be  appointed  as  a  High
           Court Judge falls in the realm of  suitability.  Similarly,  the
           process of consultation falls in  the  realm  of  suitability…….




              41. The appointment of a Judge is an  executive  function  of
           the President.  Article  217(1)  prescribes  the  constitutional
           requirement  of  “consultation”.  Fitness  of  a  person  to  be
           appointed a  Judge  of  the  High  Court  is  evaluated  in  the
           consultation process….


              43. One more aspect needs to be highlighted. “Eligibility” is
           an objective factor.  Who  could  be  elevated  is  specifically
           answered  by  Article  217(2).  When  “eligibility”  is  put  in
           question, it could fall within the  scope  of  judicial  review.
           However, the question  as  to  who  should  be  elevated,  which
           essentially  involves  the  aspect  of   “suitability”,   stands
           excluded from the purview of judicial review.
              44. At this stage, we may highlight the fact that there is  a
           vital difference  between  judicial  review  and  merit  review.
           Consultation, as stated above, forms part of  the  procedure  to
           test the fitness of a person to be appointed a High Court  Judge
           under Article 217(1). Once there is consultation, the content of
           that consultation is beyond the scope of judicial review, though
           lack of effective consultation could fall within  the  scope  of
           judicial review. This is the basic ratio of the judgment of  the
           Constitutional Bench of this Court in Supreme Court Advocates-on-
           Record Assn. v. Union of India, (1993) 4 SCC  441   and  Special
           Reference No. 1 of 1998, Re (1998) 7 SCC 739..
              In the present case, we are concerned with the mechanism  for
           giving effect to the constitutional justification  for  judicial
           review. As stated above,  “eligibility”  is  a  matter  of  fact
           whereas “suitability” is a matter of opinion. In cases involving
           lack of “eligibility” writ of quo warranto would certainly  lie.
           One  reason  being  that  “eligibility”  is  not  a  matter   of
           subjectivity. However, “suitability” or “fitness” of a person to
           be appointed a High Court Judge: his character,  his  integrity,
           his competence and the like are matters of opinion.


              73. The concept of plurality of Judges in  the  formation  of
           the opinion of the Chief Justice of  India  is  one  of  inbuilt
           checks against the likelihood of arbitrariness or bias. At  this
           stage, we reiterate that “lack of eligibility” as also “lack  of
           effective consultation” would certainly fall  in  the  realm  of
           judicial review. However, when we are earmarking a joint venture
           process as a participatory consultative process, the primary aim
           of which is to reach an agreed decision,  one  cannot  term  the
           Supreme Court Collegium as superior to High Court Collegium. The
           Supreme  Court  Collegium  does  not  sit  in  appeal  over  the
           recommendation of  the  High  Court  Collegium.  Each  Collegium
           constitutes a  participant  in  the  participatory  consultative
           process. The concept of  primacy  and  plurality  is  in  effect
           primacy of the opinion of the  Chief  Justice  of  India  formed
           collectively.  The  discharge  of  the  assigned  role  by  each
           functionary helps to transcend the concept  of  primacy  between
           them.


              74…..These are the norms, apart from modalities, laid down in
           Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Assn. (supra) and also in  the
           judgment in Special Reference No. 1 of 1998,  Re.  Consequently,
           judicial review  lies  only  in  two  cases,  namely,  “lack  of
           eligibility” and “lack of effective consultation”. It  will  not
           lie      on       the       content       of       consultation.
                       (Emphasis added)

      (See also: C. Ravichandran Iyer v. Justice AM. Bhattacharjee  &  Ors.,
      (1995) 5 SCC 457).

      18.   In Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Assn. (supra),  this  Court
      observed:
              “450….. The indication is, that in the choice of a  candidate
           suitable for appointment, the opinion of the  Chief  Justice  of
           India should have the greatest weight; the selection  should  be
           made as a result of  a  participatory  consultative  process  in
           which the executive should have power to act as a mere check  on
           the exercise of power by the Chief Justice of India, to  achieve
           the constitutional purpose……


              467….The opinion of the judiciary ‘symbolised by the view  of
           the Chief Justice of India’, is to be obtained  by  consultation
           with the Chief Justice of India; and it is  this  opinion  which
           has primacy.


              468. The rule of law envisages the area of discretion  to  be
           the minimum, requiring only the application of known  principles
           or guidelines to ensure non-arbitrariness, but to  that  limited
           extent, discretion is a pragmatic  need.  Conferring  discretion
           upon high functionaries and, whenever feasible, introducing  the
           element of plurality by requiring  a  collective  decision,  are
           further checks against arbitrariness.


              482……It is, therefore, necessary to  spell  out  clearly  the
           limited scope of judicial  review  in  such  matters,  to  avoid
           similar situations in future. Except on the ground  of  want  of
           consultation with the named constitutional functionaries or lack
           of any condition of eligibility in the case of  an  appointment,
           or of a transfer being made without the  recommendation  of  the
           Chief Justice of India, these matters are not justiciable on any
           other ground, including that of  bias,  which  in  any  case  is
           excluded by the element of plurality in the process of decision-
           making.


           SUMMARY OF THE CONCLUSIONS
              486. A  brief  general  summary  of  the  conclusions  stated
           earlier in detail is given for convenience, as under:
              ….
              ….
                (3)  In  the  event  of   conflicting   opinions   by   the
           constitutional  functionaries,  the  opinion  of  the  judiciary
           ‘symbolised by the view of the  Chief  Justice  of  India’,  and
           formed in the manner indicated, has primacy.
              (4) No appointment of any Judge to the Supreme Court  or  any
           High Court can be made, unless it  is  in  conformity  with  the
           opinion     of     the     Chief     Justice     of      India.”
                                 (emphasis supplied)


      19.   In Special Reference No. 1 of 1998 (supra),  this Court held:
              “32. Judicial review in the  case  of  an  appointment  or  a
           recommended appointment, to the Supreme Court or  a  High  Court
           is, therefore, available if the recommendation concerned is  not
           a decision of the Chief Justice  of  India  and  his  seniormost
           colleagues, which is  constitutionally  requisite.  They  number
           four in the case of a  recommendation  for  appointment  to  the
           Supreme Court and two  in  the  case  of  a  recommendation  for
           appointment to a High Court. Judicial review is  also  available
           if, in making the decision, the views of the seniormost  Supreme
           Court Judge who comes  from  the  High  Court  of  the  proposed
           appointee to the Supreme Court have not been taken into account.
           Similarly, if in connection with an appointment or a recommended
           appointment to a High Court, the views of the Chief Justice  and
           senior Judges of the High Court, as aforestated, and of  Supreme
           Court Judges knowledgeable about that High Court have  not  been
           sought or considered by the Chief Justice of India and  his  two
           seniormost puisne Judges, judicial review is available. Judicial
           review is also available when the appointee  is  found  to  lack
           eligibility.”

      (emphasis supplied)


      20.  Thus, it is apparent that judicial review is permissible only  on
      assessment of eligibility and not on suitability.  It is  not  a  case
      where the writ petitioners could not wait till  the  maturity  of  the
      cause i.e.  decision of  the collegium of  this  Court.  They  took  a
      premature step by filing  writ petitions seeking a direction to  Union
      of India to return the list sent by the collegium of the  Madras  High
      Court without further waiting its consideration by the  Supreme  Court
      collegium.   Even  after  the   President   of   India   accepts   the
      recommendations and warrants of appointment are issued, the  Court  is
      competent to quash the warrant as has been done in this case  of  Shri
      Kumar Padma Prasad v. Union of India & Ors., AIR 1992 SC 1213  wherein
      the recommendee was found not possessing eligibility for the elevation
      to the High Court as per Article 217(2).  This case goes to show  that
      that  even  when  the  President,  has  appointed  a   person   to   a
      constitutional office, the qualification of that person to  hold  that
      office can be examined in quo warranto proceedings and the appointment
      can be quashed. (See also: B.R. Kapur v. State of Tamil Nadu  &  Anr.,
      AIR 2001 SC 3435).


      21.   In such a fact-situation, the writ petitioners or the members of
      the Bar could approach Hon’ble the Chief  Justice  of  India;  or  the
      Hon’ble Law Minister, but instead of resorting to  such  a  procedure,
      the writ petitioners had adopted an unwarranted short cut  knowing  it
      fully well that on the ground of the suitability, the  writ  petitions
      were  not maintainable.
           We appreciate the fair stand taken by Shri Prabhakaran,  learned
      senior counsel before this Court that suitability cannot be a  subject
      matter of judicial review.


      22.   In view of the above, the transferred cases stand  disposed  of.
      The Writ Petition Nos. 375, 1082 and 1119  of  2014  and  all  matters
      relating to this case instituted before  the  Madras  High  Court  are
      disposed of accordingly.


                                                              …………………………….J.

    (Dr. B.S. Chauhan)


                                                              …………………………….J.

    (J. Chelameswar)


                                                              …………………………….J.

    (M.Y. Eqbal)
      New Delhi,
      March  5, 2014.



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