DESPITE reservations by at least two of his colleagues, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde called a meeting of the Supreme Court collegium Thursday to discuss appointments to the top court. That meeting, however, ended in a deadlock with “no consensus” on the future course of action, sources told The Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, Court No. 2, headed by Chief Justice of India-designate N V Ramana did not sit. However, Justice Ramana attended the collegium meeting although he did not attend court.
If a consensus had emerged on a name in the five-member panel, it would have been the first recommendation made to the government in CJI Bobde’s 14-month-long tenure.
The Collegium to recommend judges to the Supreme Court consists of five judges. Apart from CJI Bobde and Justice Ramana, it includes Justices Rohinton Nariman, U U Lalit and AM Khanwilkar.
The Supreme Court is short of five judges and with CJI Bobde retiring on April 23, the process of appointment needs to be initiated for at least six judges. Additionally, apart from CJI Bobde, Justices Ashok Bhushan, Rohinton Nariman and Navin Sinha will retire this year.
The last appointment made to the SC was in September 2019 and the earliest vacancy was created in November 2019 when former CJI Ranjan Gogoi retired.
The last time such an impasse was seen on judicial appointments was in 2015 during the tenure of CJI H L Dattu when there was an unprecedented stand-off between the judiciary and the government over the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
The Indian Express had earlier reported that at least two judges of the Supreme Court are learnt to have expressed reservations over the CJI’s decision to call the collegium. They argued that since the President of India, on April 6, issued warrants of appointment for the next Chief Justice of India, it would not be proper for the incumbent CJI to make any recommendations. Justice Ramana is set to take oath to office on April 24.