Supreme Court Collegium clears judgeship of lawyer considered CPI(M) sympathiser

Read Time: 05 minutes

The Supreme Court Collegium, led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, has cleared the way for Shri Manoj Pulamby Madhavan's appointment as a judge in the Kerala High Court. This decision comes despite concerns raised by the Department of Justice about Shri Manoj's political leanings.

The Collegium, also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice BR Gavai, noted, “the mere fact that the candidate has had a political background may not be a sufficient reason in all cases." 

The Department of Justice highlighted that Shri Manoj had been previously recognised as a sympathizer of the CPI(M) party. Additionally, he served as a government pleader, having been appointed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government. This information was brought forward as part of the evaluation process for his potential appointment.

The Collegium dismissed these concerns as "extremely vague" and insufficient for disqualification. It emphasised that a candidate's political background does not inherently undermine their suitability for judicial office. According to the collegium, the claim that Shri Manoj was a CPI(M) sympathiser lacked detailed evidence and “does not constitute a valid ground to reject his candidature.”

In their resolution, the collegium articulated that a candidate's political background should not automatically disqualify them from judicial appointments. Covertly citing the case of Justice Victoria Gowri in the Madras High Court as a precedent, the collegium stated, "For example, in the recent past, an Advocate has been appointed as a Judge of the High Court though she was an office bearer of a political party prior to her elevation." Notably, Justice Gowri was appointed despite her past political affiliations.

Additionally, the collegium argued that Shri Manoj's past role as a government pleader should not deter his appointment but rather be viewed as a valuable experience, especially in cases involving the state.

The status as a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate combined with his extensive experience practicing law were considered factors in favour of Shri Manoj, making him “worthy of being appointed as a Judge of the High Court,” as stated by the collegium.

The resolution also stated that “His performance having been observed by the members of the Collegium of the High Court who had the occasion to observe his competence and conduct as a lawyer, their opinion should be given due weightage.” Consequently, based on their observations and evaluations, the Collegium has determined that Shri Manoj is fit and suitable for appointment as a Judge of the High Court.