SC Collegium summons lawyers for formal interaction

Appointment of HC Judges
Judicial Officers file pending with Law Ministry
Neeraj Rohmetra
Jammu, Oct 13: The Supreme Court collegium has invited four lawyers from the State for a formal interaction, whose names have been recommended by the State for their appointment as Judges of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
Reliable sources told EXCELSIOR, “Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi along with two senior-most Judges – Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde and Justice N V Ramana will hold detailed interaction with the four nominees, before making the final recommendations to the Law Ministry”.
In the month of March this year, the State High Court Collegium had recommended the names of two Jammu-based lawyers namely Rajnesh Oswal and Rahul Bharti and two Srinagar-based advocates namely Javaid Iqbal Wani and Moksha Kazmi for their appointment as Judges of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
As per the precedence, the Supreme Court Collegium will take decision on the recommendation of the J&K High Court Collegium and then forward the names to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice for clearance. Later, the list will be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office for final approval of the Union Government and thereafter to the President of India for issuance of the warrant of appointment
As per the Memorandum of Procedure in vogue, lawyers with minimum 10 years of experience in practice and falling in the age group of 45-55 years are considered for the posts of High Court Judges. Two-third of the sanctioned strength of a High Court is reserved for Bar and one-third for the Bench.
It is pertinent to mention here that in July, this year, J&K High Court Collegium comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal, first puisne Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey had also cleared names of three senior judicial officers namely Vinod Chatterji Kaul, Sanjay Dhar and Puneet Gupta for the appointment as Judges of the High Court.
Vinod Chatterji Kaul is presently Principal District and Sessions Judge Jammu while as Sanjay Dhar is Registrar General of the J&K High Court and Puneet Gupta is Member J&K Special Tribunal, Jammu.
Asked about the fate of these judicial officers, sources said, “the file pertaining to the appointment of these judicial officers is still lying with Union Law Ministry”.
Interestingly, even as the SC Collegium has called the four lawyers for interaction, there is no clarity on the fate of former Senior Advocate General, Wasim Nargal, whose name had been recommended by the Collegium in April, 2018 for appointment as High Court Judge. Centre, which returned the file of Nargal to the Collegium did not provide any specific information as to why it wants the collegium to reconsider its April 2018 decision recommending Nargal’s elevation.
The present CJI, Justice Gogoi in July, this year had also sought the response of the Government on 10 more cases, including that of Nargal which the Collegium had deferred earlier but is not in a position to take up the same for consideration as certain information is still awaited from the Government.
Sources pointed out, “the process of appointment of J&K High Court Judges is also likely to face some delays in view of the retirement of Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi on November 17. As per general convention, the Chief Justice can’t make any recommendations one month before his formal retirement”.
The J&K High Court has sanctioned strength of 17 Judges including 13 Permanent Judges and 4 Additional Judges. However, at present there are only nine Judges including Chief Justice Gita Mittal. The other Judges of the High Court are Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Justice Tashi Rabstan, Justice Sanjeev Kumar Shukla, Justice Sanjay Kumar Gupta, Justice Sindhu Sharma and Justice Rashid Ali Dar.
Due to shortage of Judges in the High Court lakhs of cases of different nature are pending in both Jammu and Srinagar Wings and Collegium headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal wants early appointment of new Judges so that disposal of cases picks up momentum.