Retired Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur on Wednesday said he was left disappointed by the top court collegium’s move to not release in public domain its December 12 decision recommending the elevation of two High Court chief justices to the top court.
The collegium, which included Lokur, had recommended the elevation of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon. Lokur retired on December 30.
However, on January 10, the collegium comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Arun Mishra instead decided to elevate Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dinesh Maheshwari. Khanna was a judge in the Delhi High Court while Maheshwari was the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court.
Lokur said he was not aware of deliberations that might have taken place after December 12. “It does disappoint me that resolution passed on December 12, 2018, wasn’t put up in the public domain,” Lokur told journalist Rajdeep Sardesai at an event in New Delhi. “I do not know what was the additional material which led to the collegium decision on January 10.”
He further said: “What happens in the collegium is done in confidence. I am not going to betray anyone’s trust by saying whether we discussed this or not, but certain decisions were taken.”
Though the former judge denied that the collegium system has failed, he admitted that there was a need for change. “Memorandum of Procedure is silent on many aspects,” he said. “If High Court collegium recommends name for appointment, and the state government does not respond to proposal, collegium proceeds on presumption that the state has nothing to say.”
When asked if the press conference of Supreme Court judges in January 2018 was necessary, Lokur said it was worth it. “I can’t specify what we achieved,” he added. “But I am sure we must have achieved something. A little bit of openness.”
The press conference on January 12, 2018, was held by current Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Kurian Joseph. The judges had organised the press conference to speak out against the manner in which then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had been assigning cases to benches, and other matters.