The recommendation to supersede several other judges had been termed as “whimsical and arbitrary” by the Bar Council of India (BCI).

Prez Appoints Justices Khanna, Maheshwari to SC Despite Protests

Despite objections to the Supreme Court Collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice Sanjiv Khanna of the Delhi High Court and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari of the Karnataka High Court to the apex court, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday, 16 January, cleared their appointment.

The recommendation to supersede 32 other judges had been termed as "whimsical and arbitrary" by the Bar Council of India (BCI).

The BCI, which is an apex body of lawyers, said the decision of the five-member Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was viewed by the Bar and the common man as "unjust and improper".

Earlier, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Supreme Court had written a note to the CJI and other members of the Collegium – Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Arun Mishra – for ignoring the seniority of Chief Justices of the High Courts of Rajasthan and Delhi, Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon, respectively.

Justice Kailash Gambhir, former Delhi High Court judge, had also written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind on 14 January expressing concern over bypassing several judges seniority by the Collegium.

Controversy Began on 12 January

The names of Justices Khanna and Maheshwari for elevation as judges of the apex court was put on the Supreme Court’s website on 12 December last year when Justice MB Lokur was also a member of the Collegium. Justice Mishra became a member of the Collegium after Justice Lokur retired on 30 December.

After extensive deliberations on 5-6 January this year, the newly constituted Collegium deemed it appropriate to have a fresh look on the issue of elevation of judges in the light of the additional material that became available.

“While recommending the names of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, the collegium has taken into consideration combined seniority on all-India basis of Chief Justices and senior puisne judges of high courts, apart from their merit and integrity”.
SC Collegium

The collegium added that it has also kept in mind the desirability of giving due representation on the Bench of the Supreme Court, as far as possible, to all the high courts.