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It is not a practice to seek RAW reports on proposals for the appointment of judges in the high courts and the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances, involving issues related to national security, Rijiju said.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju replied to some important questions asked by congress leader Manish Tiwari regarding “RAW Reports on Supreme Court Collegium” in Lok Sabha on March 17, 2023.
In response to the questions, the Law Minister said, “The Supreme Court Collegium (SCC) vide its Minutes dated 18th January 2023 cited the reports of the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), which inter-alia mentioned the sexuality of an Advocate whose name has been recommended for appointment as Judge of the Delhi High Court”.
The statement is significant because the Supreme Court Collegium recently dismissed the Centre's objection to the appointment of Advocate Saurabh Kirpal as a Judge of the Delhi High Court, citing RAW reports mentioning his openness about his sexual orientation and his partnership with a Swiss national, raising concerns about national security. The Supreme Court had said there is no reason to pre-suppose that the partner of the candidate, who is a Swiss National, would be inimically disposed to the country of his origin as a friendly nation.
“Generally, it is not a practice to seek RAW reports on proposals for the appointment of judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances, involving issues related to national security,” Rijiju added.
He also stated that as per the Memorandum of Procedure for Appointment of Judges of high courts, the proposals recommended by the high court collegium for appointment as high court judges, are to be considered in the light of such other reports/inputs as may be available to the Government for assessing the suitability in respect of the names under consideration.
Further, he added, “IB inputs are obtained and provided to the SCC for making an assessment on the recommendees.”
He said that in its February 10 judgment, rejecting writ petitions filed on the subject of appointment of a judge in the Madras High Court, the Supreme Court had stated that political background by itself has not been an "absolute bar to the appointment of otherwise a suitable individual".
Similarly, the minister stated that criticism of policies or conduct by those suggested for advancement has not been used to dismiss them.
The questions also referred to the centre’s objection to the elevation of Advocate R.John Sathyan as a judge of the Madras High Court. Tiwari also asked whether the government takes into consideration any political leanings and online posts while appointing judges of High courts and the Supreme court.
In his reply, Rijiju added that “the Supreme Court Collegium has also opined that a candidate's political leanings or expression of views does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional position as long as the person proposed for a judgeship is a person of competence, merit, and integrity".
Lastly, Rijiju said that “the government, as an important stakeholder in the process of appointing judges to high courts, provides inputs that primarily contain information on the suitability, competence, and integrity of candidates under consideration for appointment to high constitutional posts in the judiciary, as outlined in the Memorandum of Procedure”.
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