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Justices Lokur & Joseph express dissent regarding publication of Collegium’s resolutions for appointment of Judges

Two senior Supreme Court judges, Justice M.B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph, both members of the Collegium, have written to Chief Justice Dipak Misra, expressing serious reservations on the court’s recent decision regarding the publication of the Collegium’s resolutions for the appointment and transfer of Judges, as reported by the Economic Times.

On October 5th 2017, the Collegium had decided to publish its resolutions on judicial appointments, with a view to introducing greater transparency in the process of appointment and transfer of Judges.

However, on October 7th 2017, Justice Joseph wrote a letter to the CJI expressing his dissent over the publication of the resolution holding that disclosing reasons for not selecting candidates may violate their human rights, privacy and dignity and hence the decision to upload the resolutions was a breach of trust and contrary to the given mandate.

As quoted by the Economic Times, he had stated in his letter ,“…you have in breach of the trust reposed in you, in violation of the mandate of the resolutions and in total defiance of the request of your sister and brother judges, chosen to upload the text of the resolutions which contained information which might violate human rights of some persons, if not other rights, who are still to continue as judicial officers,”

He further stated that, “ If three out of five of the collegium request you to have further discussions on the issue, are you not bound by such request? … All of us are seriously interested in transparency. But should we also not respect the rights of others affected by our attempt to be transparent?… Have we not in the history of the collegium, where you are a member, made such revisits?”

Justice Lokur too, after obtaining the consent of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph, members of the collegium, wrote a letter to the CJI showing concern over the publishing of resolutions for judicial appointments.

“This is to request you to kindly initiate further discussions on the subject,” Justice Lokur reportedly wrote in his letter. “While no one has any objection to any transparency, issues of confidentiality are equally important and it is necessary to balance them.”, he added.

In his letter, Justice Joseph had also mentioned that since discussions on October 5 were incomplete, the judges requested him and Justice Lokur to deliberate on the matter, which would affect the institution and not just the collegium.

The SC collegium had passed a resolution in October under mounting pressure, to make public its recommendations on judicial appointments in order to ensure transparency. Justice Chelameswar was the only one out of the Five judge constitution Bench on NJAC judgment who had not only upheld the NJAC law but also found the collegium system of judicial appointments to be lacking in transparency . He had therefore suggested for adoption of circulation method for appointing judges which was thereby accepted by the Court.

According to the ET, legal luminaries, including SC judges, said that the move would be extremely embarrassing for judicial officers and advocates who are not selected for promotions.

“Making reasons public for rejection without affording an opportunity is not only defamatory but also against the principles of natural justice,” a legal luminary pointed out, according to the report.

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