Loss of Seniority of Candidates Recommended Earlier a Matter of Grave Concern: SC Collegium

The Supreme Court Collegium has voiced concern over the Centre withholding or overlooking the names recommended for appointment as judges, saying this disturbs the seniority of the candidates, and asked the government to take “necessary action” for elevation of those recommended earlier.

The collegium, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, said a notification for the elevation of persons recommended earlier in point of time should be issued at the earliest.

The collegium voiced its concern in a resolution dated March 21 in which it recommended the names of four district judges for appointment as judges of the Madras High Court. The collegium, which comprises Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, recommended the names of R Sakthivel, P Dhanabal, Chinnasamy Kumarappan, and K Rajasekar.

“By its resolution dated 17 January 2023, the Collegium of the Supreme Court recommended the appointment of Shri Ramaswamy Neelakandan, advocate practising before the Madras High Court, as a judge of the high court. As on March 31, 2023, Shri Ramaswamy Neelakandan was 48.07 years of age while Shri K Rajasekar on that date was 47.09 years of age.

“Shri Neelakandan, who is a member of the Bar, has been recommended earlier in point of time and must be appointed before Shri Rajasekar is appointed. Otherwise, Shri Rajasekar, who is a judicial officer and younger than Shri Neelakandan, would rank senior to Shri Neelakandan. Such a deviation in seniority would be unfair and against the settled convention,” the resolution said.

The collegium said that while recommending the name of Rajasekar for elevation, it is of the view that his appointment should be notified after the appointment of Neelakandan is notified.

“The collegium is of the considered view that necessary action for the issuance of a notification for the elevation of persons who have been recommended earlier in point of time should be taken at the earliest including the name of Shri R John Sathyan which has been reiterated by this collegium on 17 January 2023.

“The names which have been recommended earlier in point of time including the reiterated names ought not to be withheld or overlooked as this disturbs their seniority whereas those recommended later steal march on them. Loss of seniority of candidates recommended earlier in point of time has been noted by the collegium and is a matter of grave concern,” the collegium stated.

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