The Bar Council of India on Wednesday said it will ask the Supreme Court Collegium to recall or reconsider its decision to recommend the names of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Delhi High Court Justice Sanjiv Khanna for elevation to the top court, The Leaflet reported.
Bar Council chairperson MK Mishra threatened to stage a protest if the Collegium does not comply with their demands, ANI reported. The council’s statement described the decision as “unjust and improper”. The panel also criticised the revocation of the earlier recommendations of judges Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon to positions within the top court.
“These [Nandrajog and Menon] are men of integrity and judicial competence,” the council said. “Nobody can raise a finger against these judges on any ground. The decision will certainly lead to humiliation and demoralisation of such judges.”
Since the top court’s decision on January 10, several major names within the judiciary have expressed their dissent against the recommendation. The council said it has no grievance against Khanna, but that he “can wait his turn”.
The collegium – comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Arun Mishra – took the decision at a meeting on January 10. The Supreme Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 31 judges, currently has five vacancies.
Maheshwari was appointed as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in 2004 and transferred to the Allahabad High Court in 2014. He was elevated as Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court in February 2016 and then transferred to the Karnataka High Court in February 2018. “Justice Dinesh Maheshwari stands at Sl. No. [serial number] 21 in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on all-India basis,” the order said.
Khanna was appointed as a judge of the Delhi High Court in 2005 and has been functioning there since then. “He stands at Sl.No. 33 in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on all-India basis,” the collegium said. “The Collegium while recommending the name of Mr. Justice Sanjiv Khanna for elevation to the Supreme Court is well conscious of his seniority position in the Delhi High Court also.”