Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi alleges Supreme Court collegiums of indulging in “nepotism”
NEW DELHI: In a new low in the history of executive-judiciary ties, the Centre on Friday accused Supreme Court collegiums of indulging in “nepotism” in defence of its move to change the system of appointing judges.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi alleged that successive collegiums indulged in “nepotism” in elevating acting NHRC chief Cyriac Joseph as a Supreme Court judge despite his lacklustre record as a high court judge, in the name of giving representation to one particular community, prompting the court to hit back at the government for its doublespeak in appointing the same judge to other key posts after his retirement.
He made this accusation before a five-judge bench, comprising Justices JS Khehar, Jasti Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel, hearing several petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the National Judicial Appointments Commission. Justice Joseph, who hails from Kerala, was Uttarakhand high court chief justice when he was elevated to the top court. Post retirement, he was tipped to become the chief of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, but he didn’t get the post after a controversy erupted over his non-performance as a judge. Subsequently, he was named member of the NHRC in 2013 by the UPA government despite protests by the opposition BJP. Justice Joseph is now the acting chief of NHRC.
Rohatgi claimed that as Supreme Court judge, Justice Joseph delivered only seven judgements, out of which two were concurring judgements where he wrote only a paragraph or two. Rohatgi went on to claim that it was a matter of common knowledge that hundreds of judgements were reserved over different courts throughout the country, but never delivered. “Can you justify it?”