Former Delhi High Court judge Kailash Gambhir has written to President Ram Nath Kovind, objecting to the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dinesh Maheshwari to the top court, Live Law reported on Tuesday.
Khanna is at present a judge in the Delhi High Court while Maheshwari is the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court. The collegium – comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Arun Mishra – decided to elevate the two at a meeting on January 10.
In his letter, Gambhir claimed that the collegium’s decision has sent shockwaves across the legal and judicial fraternity. He urged Kovind to “prevent another historical blunder” from being committed.
The former judge said that elevating Khanna would mean superseding three judges senior to him in the Delhi High Court and 30 judges senior to him across the country, including chief justices. This was “appalling and outrageous” and casts aspersions on the intellect, merit and integrity of all the judges who have been superseded, he added.
“I humbly urge your Excellency to kindly ponder over as the head of our largest democracy in the world with a robust judiciary and having remained a part of the legal fraternity, and see yourself that the way the present Collegium of five eminent senior judges have superseded almost 32 judges, how will the democracy and independency [independence] of judiciary in the country survive,” Gambhir wrote.
Gambhir pointed out that Khanna is the nephew of the late Justice HR Khanna, “a highly respected man in the legal world”.
“The talk in the legal corridors is that the elevation of Justice Khanna is with a view to pay respect to the legacy left by his great uncle,” he added.
The former judge said elevating Khanna judges would be a “black day” for the judiciary and urged the president to help preserve the institution’s credibility and independence.