Collegium should immediately reiterate its proposed name: Congress

New Delhi: Accusing the Narendra Modi government of doing “content based discrimination” against certain judges, the Congress on Friday said that the Supreme Court Collegium should have made an immediate reiteration of its recommendation after the government rejected its first proposal.

“There should have been an immediate reiteration of the recommendation. And therefore, we would not agree with the delay which has happened on the reiteration. It should have happened forthwith,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

He stressed that there “should have been a question and a show cause to the government from the judicial side” as to why it took the government four-and-a-half months to even reject its proposal.

He even asked the Collegium to take a leaf out of former Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan’s book in case of delay by the government after reiteration. Seshan had once told the government he would hold no elections till the government made all the appointments.

“T.N. Seshan has set an example, a wrong example albeit, but still an example for a higher principle. I am not recommending it. I am only making a rhetorical point. We would implore the Collegium and the judges to uphold that majesty of the independence of judiciary,” said Singhvi, an eminent lawyer himself.

The Congress spokesperson’s reaction came in response to a media query about the government rejecting Justice K.M. Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court as recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium and the Collegium deferring its decision on the government’s opinion.

The opposition has alleged that the government is scuttling Justice Joseph’s elevation for his scrapping President’s Rule in Uttarakhand in 2016. As the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, Justice Joseph overturned the dismissal of the state’s Harish Rawat-led Congress government by the Narendra Modi government.

“The Congress party cannot support a situation where we believe that there has been a content based discrimination against a particular judge or certain judges either in appointment, elevation or transfer,” Singhvi said.

“We believe that it is the majesty of the principle of the independence of judiciary which is most important. It is nothing to do with the Congress or the BJP. It is not even to do with Justice Joseph. It is to do with the much higher principle of independence of judiciary,” he added.

Singhvi alleged that there have been reports of a proposal in the government to treat the reiteration by the Collegium of Justice Joseph’s name as a fresh recommendation, which he said was “unconstitutional” and “fraud on the Constitution”.

“I hope that is not true. I have asked this question myself personally and I am asking through you (media) if the government has this plans. It is unconstitutional, it is fraud on the Constitution to play such game,” he said.