Supreme Court judge Jasti Chelameswar has written to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra questioning why Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari had decided to investigate a judge the Supreme Court Collegium had recommended twice for promotion to the High Court, The Hindu reported on Wednesday. The collegium is a group comprising the Supreme Court’s five senior most judges, including the chief justice of India.
Chelameswar, who is second in seniority only to Misra, has asked the chief justice of India to call a full court meeting of the Supreme Court to discuss the matter. Misra is believed to be in contact with Justice Maheshwari, according to The Hindu.
The Karnataka High Court chief justice decided to initiate an inquiry against District and Sessions Judge P Krishna Bhat after the Law Ministry wrote to him. The Centre’s letter came after the Supreme Court collegium recommended Bhat’s name for elevation to the High Court a second time.
According to the rules, the government does not directly communicate with High Courts after the Collegium recommends a name. As per the Memorandum of Procedure for Appointment of Judges, the government is obliged to comply if the Supreme Court Collegium reiterates its recommendation of a name for appointment as a judge.
The Law Ministry’s letter to the Karnataka High Court chief justice without consulting the chief justice of India violated several Supreme Court rulings, which hold that “the opinion of the chief justice of India should have the greatest weight”, according to The Hindu.
The Supreme Court Collegium first recommended the district and sessions court judge’s name for appointment to the High Court in August 2016. The Centre returned the recommendation after a female judge accused him of “atrocities and abuse of power”. The second recommendation came in April 2017 after former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice SK Mukherjee found the allegations against Judge Bhat “incorrect and concocted”. The Law Ministry then wrote to Justice Maheshwari.