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Supreme Court says it has no record of its collegium proceedings, dismisses challenge

The Supreme Court bench comprising of justices Ranjan Gogoi, Arun Mishra, and Prafulla C Pant today told Raj Kumar Mehta, the counsel for Lalit Kumar Mishra, the former Additional Judge of the Orissa high court, who challenged his non-appointment as the permanent judge of the high court that there are no records of the proceedings of the Supreme Court collegium.

Therefore, the bench declined Mehta’s request for access to records of collegium meetings held in connection with the recall of the recommendation to appoint Mishra as a permanent judge.

The bench dismissed Lalit Kumar Mishra’s SLP against the Orissa high court’s judgment that had earlier rejected his challenge to his non-appointment as permanent judge, as reported previously Legally India.

Today at 2 pm in Court No 7, Mehta resumed his submissions, thanking the bench for permission to peruse the Mishra appointment file, which he claimed, revealed the following:

1. The Orissa high court chief justice only requested the then-CJI, KG Balakrishnan, to reconsider the recommendation sent by the high court collegium to make Mishra a permanent Judge. There is nothing in writing to suggest that the Supreme Court collegium reconsidered the recommendation.

2. The CJI, in his individual capacity, wrote that he was recalling the recommendation to make Mishra a permanent Judge.

Mehta, therefore, submitted that the Supreme Court collegium should have considered it and its response should have been equal to its responsibility.

Non-consideration by the collegium of the high court chief justice’s request for reconsideration of his recommendation vitiated the CJI’s letter of recalling the recommendation to make Mishra a permanent judge, he suggested.

Mehta thus contended that the notion that the recommendation to appoint Lalit Kumar Mishra a permanent Judge was recalled by the Supreme Court collegium was not true.

He also told the bench that Justice Radhakrishnan, who heard the case earlier, before it was referred to the current three-Judge bench, called for the records of the collegium, to verify the truth.

To this, Justice Gogoi quipped: “Records of the collegium can’t be recalled; we are not inclined to interfere. The SLP is dismissed.”

During the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) hearings, the government produced minutes of the ministry relating to judicial appointments but the Supreme Court never did relating to its collegium.

If such minutes existed, they would have helped to shed light on the apparent discrepancy in Lalit Kumar Mishra’s case.

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