19 October, 2020

Whose Right Is It Anyway?

The Law Ministry and the Chief Justice engage in a tug-of-war over the appointment of judges

Whose Right Is It Anyway?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

WHO should appoint judges to the Supreme Court? And who is responsible for their transfers from one court to the other? Never an easy question to answer at the best of times, the issue is now tied up in knots. The authority of the Chief Justice of India in appointing judges was never in question—at least by successive previous governments. But now, a spanner has been thrown into the works with the Union Law Ministry questioning Chief Justice M.M. Punchhi's decision to appoint judges to the apex court and high courts.

In a note to Justice Punchhi on July 17, law minister Thambi Durai made it clear that the law ministry is "entitled" to seek a "clarification" on any appointment of judges. The tone of the law minister's note was sharp, its implication clear—he does not appear too keen on the six judges whose names Punchhi had forwarded for appointment to the Supreme Court in April.

The appointments of judges is an issue close to the heart of Chief Justices. And previous governments have generally tended not...

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