After politics and film industry, the nepotism bug now seems to have bit the judiciary, if the central government is to be believed. As reported by Times of India, the Centre has written a letter with ‘proof’ to the Supreme Court mentioning the existing nepotism in the appointments within the judiciary.
In the letter, the government has highlighted the relationship of advocates with sitting and retired HC and apex court judges in at least 11 out of 33 recommendations for the Allahabad High Court.
By virtue of a 1993 SC judgement, the chief justice of respective high courts and two other senior-most judges of the court comprise a collegium which identifies suitable candidates, carry out due diligence and recommend names for appointment of judges. The shortlisted candidates are then scrutinized by a collegium of five senior-most judges of the SC headed by the Chief Justice of India. The Central government then undergoes intelligence bureau-led inquiry if a lawyer is slated for elevation to a judge in the High Court and Supreme Court. The Centre can raise objections and seek clarifications, but cannot stop the appointment.
Now, the government had forwarded a list of 33 such advocates recommended for a judgeship by the Allahabad HC collegium with its own findings to the apex court after finding only 11-12 of the advocates recommended competent to be made judges. In an unprecedented move, the government has also mentioned relations of many of these candidates with the sitting and retired judges to put across a point that such appointments should be disregarded so that a level playing field for other competent advocates is created. It was reported that when the recommendation was sent earlier, the law ministry had received various complaints from the Allahabad and Lucknow bar against the recommendations and had asked the intelligence bureau for a background check on each of the candidates. The list had allegedly included the brother-in-law of a sitting SC judge a first cousin of another SC judge besides relatives of former judges of the apex court and the high courts. It was reported that at least 10 judges were in some way related to former and sitting judges of the higher courts.
As TOI reported, this is not the first time that the Allahabad High court has got into such an embarrassing situation. Two years back, the then Chief Justice of India T S Thakur had rejected 11 out of 30 candidates as the recommended candidates were related to the judges and politicians.