Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, the next chief justice of India, on Wednesday refused to comment on the United Nations’ statement that the Supreme Court was slow in dealing with petitions concerning freedom of movement and media curbs in Jammu and Kashmir, NDTV reported.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday signed the warrant to appoint Bobde the next chief justice. He will take the oath on November 18, and his term will be until April 2021.

“The Supreme Court of India has been slow to deal with petitions concerning habeas corpus, freedom of movement and media restrictions,” the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday. It had added that while state commissions have been wound up as the state is to be converted into a Union territory, new commissions are yet to be set up in their place.

On October 24, the top court had told the Jammu and Kashmir administration that restrictions imposed in the region in national interest need to be reviewed periodically. In the previous hearing on October 16, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to produce orders related to the shutdown and detentions in Jammu and Kashmir. Last month, the court had postponed a clutch of petitions related to Jammu and Kashmir, saying the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi does not have time. “We do not have the time to hear so many matters,” Gogoi had said. “We have the Constitution Bench case [Ayodhya dispute] to hear.”

Bobde, who is part of the five-judge Constitution Bench that heard the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case, also said the Ayodhya case is “one of the most important in the world”.

Asked about the Supreme Court collegium recommendations being delayed by the government, Bobde said the recommendations are processed faster than earlier. “Some have been delayed because we have made last minute changes,” he told NDTV in an interview.

He added that he was not in favour of disclosing information on the collegium’s rejections of members of the higher judiciary, PTI reported. “The reason is that people’s reputation is at stake,” he said. “So when you weigh this (privacy) against the need of a citizen, who has nothing to do with him, to know.... If you weigh this against the ordinary curiosity. For an ordinary person, it is a kind of curiosity that he wants to know. If you weigh these two, then it is important to be conservative than to disclose everything.”

Bobde said the Supreme Court is likely to have a constant five-judge Constitution Bench to look into constitutional matters, PTI reported. Separately, he added that criticism of judges, and not judgements, amounted to defamation.

Also read: SC could indeed have found time to hear Kashmir cases – if it had been inclined to

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