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SC Collegium overrules objection by Central Govt to appoint CPI(M) sympathiser advocate as Kerala HC judge, says ‘political background not sufficient reason’

"The input that the candidate is considered to be a CPI(M) sympathizer is otherwise vague and bereft of cogent grounds. Even otherwise, the mere fact that the candidate has had a political background may not be a sufficient reason in all cases," the Collegium said while rejecting the Centre's input.

On Tuesday (12th March), the Supreme Court Collegium rejected the Central government’s objection to advocate Manoj Pulamby Madhavan’s appointment as a Kerala High Court judge. The Central government had opposed Madhavan’s nomination since he was a supporter of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and had previously worked as a Government Pleader in Kerala during the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s tenure in 2010 and 2016-2021.

“The input that the candidate is considered to be a CPI(M) sympathizer is otherwise vague and bereft of cogent grounds. Even otherwise, the mere fact that the candidate has had a political background may not be a sufficient reason in all cases,” the Collegium said while rejecting the Centre’s input.

On 12th March, the Collegium nominated six attorneys’ names, including Madhavan, for appointment as Kerala High Court judges.

Madhavan belongs to the Scheduled Caste community and has 35 documented judgments to his credit. The Union Law Ministry’s Department of Justice, on the other hand, opposed his promotion. “Manoj Pulamby Madhavan is considered to be a CPI(M) sympathizer. He was appointed as Government Pleader in 2010 and 2016-2021 by the LDF Government,” it said.

The Collegium responded by remarking that the claim that Madhavan “is considered to be a CPI(M) sympathizer” is exceedingly ambiguous. “Similarly, that he was appointed as a Government Pleader in 2010 and 2016-2021 by the LDF Government does not constitute a valid ground to reject his candidature,” the Collegium said.

In fact, the candidate’s nomination as a Government Pleader would imply that he has appropriate expertise in managing matters in which the State is a party in several fields of law, according to the judge’s decision.

Regarding the candidate’s alleged past political background, the Collegium noted that a lawyer was recently appointed as a judge of a High Court despite being an office bearer of a political party before her elevation.

Further Manoj’s position as a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate, paired with his vast legal expertise, was deemed “worthy of being appointed as a Judge of the High Court,” according to the collegium.

The resolution went on to say that his performance having been observed by the members of the Collegium of the High Court who had to observe his competence and conduct as a lawyer, their opinion should be given due weightage.” As a result of their observations and evaluations, the Collegium found that Manoj is qualified and appropriate for appointment as a High Court Judge.

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