The Supreme Court collegium has questioned the Centre about its opposition to the elevation of an advocate as a judge in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

The collegium had approved the appointment of Senior Additional Advocate General Wasim Sadiq Nargal as a judge in the High Court on April 6, 2018. However, the Ministry of Law returned the recommendation and asked the chief justice to reconsider the decision in light of “observations made in the file”.

During a meeting on January 16, the collegium decided to defer Nargal’s appointment for the moment and asked the Ministry of Law for detailed information on the basis of which the proposal was returned.

The ministry, however, has not provided information till now on why it wanted to collegium to reconsider its decision recommending Nargal’s elevation, reported The Indian Express.

If Nargal was elevated, he would have become the first Muslim judge from Jammu in the High Court. Nargal was 49 years old when he was recommended for elevation, and he would have had 12 years as a permanent High Court judge. By seniority, he would have been a potential chief justice of the High Court.

In April, the collegium, which was headed by former Chief Justice Dipak Misra and included current Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and retired Justice J Chelameswar had recommended Nargal, Advocate Nazir Ahmed Beig, Assistant Solicitor General Sindhu Sharma and Judicial Officer Rashid Ali Dar to be appointed judges of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The collegium had then said that seniority should be fixed as per the existing practice, which would mean that Nargal, if elevated, would have been senior-most among the four. In June, Nargal submitted his resignation and is now an advocate in Jammu.

On August 3, 2018, the Centre notified the appointment of Sharma and Dar as judges to the High Court, but withheld Nargal and Beig’s names.

The Supreme Court collegium, during its January 16 meeting, had agreed to take back its earlier recommendation to elevate Beig “having regard to all relevant factors and material placed in the file”.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court at present has nine judges against the approved strength of 17.