New Delhi: Rejecting the Centre’s objections, the Supreme Court Collegium has reiterated the names of Justices Aniruddha Bose and AS Bopanna for elevation to the apex court, making it mandatory for the government to now appoint them.
The Collegium, in response to the observations made by the Department of Justice, said: “Merit should be given predominant consideration.”
On April 12, the SC collegium had recommended the names of Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice Aniruddha Bose, and Gauhati HC Chief Justice AS Bopanna for elevation to the top court. However, the Centre on Wednesday sent back the two names, citing seniority and representation of regions as the reason behind the move.
While Justice Bose whose parent high court is Calcutta, is at number 12 in all-India seniority of judges, Justice Bopanna, whose parent high court is Karnataka, stands at number 36. Last year, the government had returned Justice Bose's name to the collegium when he was recommended to head the Delhi high court.
“While recommending the names of Mr Justices Aniruddha Bose and AS Bopanna, the collegium has taken into consideration, apart from their merit and integrity, combined seniority on all-India basis of chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts.
“The collegium has also kept in mind the desirability of giving due representation on the bench of the Supreme Court, as far as possible, to all the high courts," the collegium resolution had read.
The Calcutta High Court is represented in the Supreme Court by Justice Indira Banerjee. Justices SM Mallikarjnagouda and S Abdul Nazeer represent the Karnataka HC. At present, the Supreme Court has a working strength of 27. Its sanctioned strength is 31 judges, including the chief justice.
Amid the face-off, the Collegium also recommended the names of Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant to the Centre for their elevation as apex court judges. Justice Gavai is presently a judge of the Bombay High Court and Justice Kant is the incumbent Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
As per the Collegium recommendation uploaded on the top court's website, the five-member Collegium headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi met on Wednesday and recommended these two names for their elevation as Supreme Court judges.