The Supreme Court collegium on Monday said that two of its members have objected to the procedure adopted by Chief Justice UU Lalit to finalise potential candidates for elevating them as judges of the top court.

Justices DY Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer disagreed with the method of circulating a letter to finalise the names of the candidates for elevation, a statement said. The collegium, which at present also comprises Lalit, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, holds physical meetings to take the decision of elevating judges.

Further, in view of the Union law ministry asking Lalit to name his successor, the collegium will not hold any deliberation on elevating judges, according to the statement.

Lalit will retire on November 8 and his successor will assume the office the next day. According to conventions, an outgoing chief justice cannot hold collegium meetings when the appointment process of his successor has begun, reported The Hindu.

The collegium was considering the names of 11 candidates for filling up the vacancies in the Supreme Court. In the statement, it said that on September 26, all its members agreed to elevate Bombay High Court judge Dipankar Datta but deferred taking a decision on the remaining 10 candidates to September 30.

The collegium said that some judges had wanted to examine more judgements of the candidates.

On September 30, the meeting was convened at 4.30 pm but Chandrachud, who is next in line to the chief justice, could not attend it. Chandrachud was holding court till 9.15 pm, according to Live Law.

As all the members were not present, the meeting did not take place. Instead, Lalit sent a letter via circulation proposing the names of candidates for elevation. Although the statement does not mention the names recommended for appointment, according to Hindustan Times, it was High Court Chief Justices Ravi Shankar Jha (Punjab and Haryana), Sanjay Karol (Patna) and Sanjay Kumar (Manipur) and senior advocate KV Viswanathan.

While Kaul and Joseph approved the proposal, Chandrachud and Nazeer objected to the method of seeking their opinion, the statement noted.

“The letters of Hon’ble Dr. Justice Chandrachud and Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. Abdul Nazeer however did not disclose any views against any of these candidates,” the statement said. “This was brought to their Lordships’ [Lalit’s] notice and reasons were solicited and/or alternative suggestions were invited vide second communication dated 02-10-2022 addressed by the CJI.”

The statement said that judges did not respond to the October 2 letter.

“The matter was, therefore, ideally suited to have a discussion across the table amongst the judges forming the collegium,” the statement said, adding that in the meantime, the law ministry asked Lalit to name his successor.

Due to the ministry’s letter, the collegium decided not to deliberate on the September 30 meeting for selecting judges to the Supreme Court.