SC Collegium Recommends Retired District Judge for Appointment as Judge of MP HC

Setting a precedent, the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud has recommended a retired district judge for appointment as judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The collegium, which also includes Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, recommended the name of Roopesh Chandra Varshney, who joined judicial service on September 28, 1987 and is a senior member of the Madhya Pradesh Higher Judicial Service, for judgeship of the high court.

Prior to this, Justice Baharul Islam (1980) and Justice Fathima Beevi (1989) were appointed as apex court judges after they had retired as judges of a high court.

Referring to the Intelligence Bureau report, the collegium said Varshney has a good personal and professional image and that nothing adverse has come to notice against his integrity.

His judicial performance, as assessed by the Evaluation Committee of Judges, is very good and the annual confidential reports of the candidate are noteworthy, it said.

The collegium said on the date of the recommendation by the collegium of the high court, he was about 59.10 years of age and has since retired from judicial service on reaching the age of superannuation.

It noted that on the date of the vacancy against which his name has been recommended, his age was 58.03 years and so qualifies with reference to the prescribed age criterion.

“Having regard to the above and the legitimate expectation based on the long period of service rendered by him, the collegium is of the considered opinion that Shri Roopesh Chandra Varshney is suitable for appointment as a Judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh,” the collegium said.

Besides Varshney, the collegium recommended the names of Anuradha Shukla, Sanjeev Sudhakar Kalgaonkar, Prem Narayan Singh, Achal Kumar Paliwal, Hirdesh, and Avnindra Kumar Singh for judgeship of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The resolution said on November 23, 2022, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh recommended the elevation of these seven judicial officers as judges of the court in consultation with his two senior-most colleagues.

The chief minister and the governor of Madhya Pradesh have endorsed the recommendations and the file was received in the Supreme Court from the Department of Justice on April 7, the resolution said.

“In terms of the Memorandum of Procedure, in order to ascertain the fitness and suitability of the candidates for elevation to the high court, the judge of the Supreme Court conversant with the affairs of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh has been consulted,” it said.

The collegium said for the purpose of assessing the merit and suitability of the candidates for elevation to the high court, it has scrutinised the material placed on record, including the observations made by the Department of Justice in the file as well as the complaints received against the candidates.

“We have also taken note of the fact that the above proposal involves non-recommendation of two senior judicial officers. In this regard, the high court collegium has duly recorded reasons for not recommending the names of these judicial officers,” the collegium said.

“We are in agreement with the justification given by the High Court collegium in its minutes for not recommending these senior judicial officers,” it added.

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