SC Demands Report from HP HC on District Judicial Officer Nominations

SC Demands Report from HP HC on District Judicial Officer Nominations

Today, the Supreme Court has taken action by issuing a notice to the Registrar General of the Himachal Pradesh High Court to provide a report on whether the High Court Collegium reviewed the nominations of two senior District Judicial Officers as per the Supreme Court Collegium's suggestion dated January 4th.

Mr. Chirag Bhanu Singh and Mr. Arvind Malhotra, two senior district judges, have filed a petition. They argue that the Himachal Pradesh High Court collegium disregarded their merit and seniority. Additionally, they claim that the collegium overlooked the recommendation by the Supreme Court collegium, led by CJI Dy Chandrachud, to elevate them to the High Court from the service quota.

The Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Prashant Kumar Misra while dictating the order of issuing notice.

Senior Advocate Mr. Arvind P. Datar, representing the petitioners, emphasized that the judgments delivered by the petitioners were not taken into account when assessing the suitability and eligibility of the judicial officers. This disregard occurred despite the Resolution of the Apex Court and the subsequent letter from the Ministry.

"They have recommended the names of the officers much junior to me. I have got an unblemished service record. In light of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court Collegium and the request by the Hon'ble Law Ministry these names should be considered for elevation when you issue fresh consideration for elevation.....what they say is (Resolution of January 4) please consider their names afresh, they are not even being considered."

Justice Roy, however, expressed the opinion that it is crucial to first obtain a comprehensive understanding of the matter, including the facts and what considerations the High Court Collegium deliberated upon.

Mr. Datar proposed issuing a notice to the Registrar General of the High Court, requesting a report specifically addressing the aforementioned aspect.

The district judges of Bilaspur and Solan, Mr. Chirag Bhanu Singh and Mr. Arvind Malhotra, have specifically sought relief in their writ petition. They are requesting a direction to the High Court to consider their names in accordance with the Resolution of the Supreme Court Collegium dated January 4th.

The judicial officers further pray for a stay on the process of consideration of names by the High Court Collegium till the time the Apex Court resolves the issue. It may be noted that the January 4 Resolution for reconsideration of the petitioners came after the Supreme Court Collegium deferred the names of petitioners on July 12, 2023.

Furthermore, the petitioners have highlighted that following the aforementioned Supreme Court resolution, the Union Minister of Law and Justice also forwarded a communication dated January 16, 2024, urging the High Court collegium to reconsider the names of the petitioners. The petitioners are dismayed by the High Court Collegium's failure to consider their names for elevation. They are particularly troubled by the fact that the collegium has instead contemplated the names of judicial officers who are junior to them.

The matter will now be heard on July 15.


W.P. (C) No. 000312/2024

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