Home Fact-Check Justice AK Sikri declines honorary judicial position: Here is how lies were spread about his appointment

Justice AK Sikri declines honorary judicial position: Here is how lies were spread about his appointment

The Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal is a honorary judicial organisation where only judges are appointed, which was alleged to be a plum-posting by the opposition and a section of pliant media.

Supreme Court judge Justice AK Sikri, who is scheduled to retire on March 6, has withdrawn his consent for appointment to the post of president/member of the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT).

Today, several media houses reported the news that government has nominated Justice Sikri for the Tribunal, and linked it with Justice Sikri’s verdict against former CBI director Alok Verma as a member of the high-level selection committee. His ruling was decisive in removing Verma from his post, as PM Modi wanted to remove Verma while Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to keep him as CBI director.

Media houses reported the news of Justice Sikri’s new appointment hinting that it is a plum posting the government is offering him as a reward for his role in the selection committee. Reacting to the news, Rahul Gandhi tweeted repeating his Rafale allegations, saying PM Modi is driven by fear, and this fear is making him corrupt and destroy key institutions.

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Left-wing activist Prashant Bhushan tweeted that Justice Sikri is getting a plum posting.

After the barrage of attack by politicians, activists and journalists, who were directly insinuating Quid pro quo in Justice Sikri’s decision against Alok Verma, the news came that he has withdrawn his consent for the post-retirement offer.

Then there were others who went a step ahead and lied about Prime Minister Modi appointing Justice Sikri in the High Powered Committee that heard Alok Verma’s case.

While Justice Sikri has come under the attack from the Congress ecosystem over the Verma issue and this post-retirement appointment over, several important facts were ignored by them.

Justice Sikri was nominated for Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal in November last year itself, and he had given his consent in the first week on December 2018, this decision was not taken after the Alok Verma decision. Moreover, it was not known at that time that he will have to take a decision on Alok Verma’s fate.

He was not a part of the bench hearing the petition of Alok Verma, and the Supreme Court’s order that selection committee should decide on Verma’s fate came in 8th January this year. Apart from the Prime Minister and the leader of largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, the third member of the committee is the Chief Justice of India. CJI Ranjan Gogoi had nominated Justice A K Sikri, means there was no role of government in constituting the committee.

The insinuation that Justice Sikri was offered a ‘plum post-retirement posting’ due to his pro-government stand is totally false. In May last year, Justice Sikri had ruled against BJP in the crucial Karnataka assembly floor test case. BJP had emerged as the largest party in the assembly elections but did not win a majority, while Congress and JDS had formed a post-poll alliance with a comfortable majority. BJP had wanted more time for the floor test to be conducted, but a Supreme Court bench which included Justice Sikri had ruled that the floor test had to be conducted within 24 hours.

Justice Sikri had also struck down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act, 2016, which had empowered private entities to use Aadhaar data. Although the judgement had ruled that Aadhaar is constitutionally valid, striking down section 57 was seen as a major embarrassment for the government.

It is also important to note that the CSAT is a judicial organisation, comprising the President and seven members. The Commonwealth members are required to nominate persons to the body on a regionally representative basis, and such nominated persons must hold or have held high judicial offices in a commonwealth country. This means, only senior judges can be nominated for this position. As Justice Sikri is the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court after CJI Gogoi, and he is retiring in March this year, he was the natural choice of the government for the job.

The CSAT position is also not a regular job, and it offers no remuneration. It is an honorary position, and the members need to visit London only a few times a year to attend hearings of the Tribunal, as it is not a regular court.

But the baseless and irresponsible mudslinging on him by left-liberals has meant that he was forced to withdraw from the post to stop it. Moreover, any new judge nominated by the government for the position may come under the same attack of ‘plum posting’, and such persons also may decline the offer, which would mean that India may have to give away its representation in the Commonwealth body, all because of baseless allegations of Rahul Gandhi and left-liberal journalists.

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