Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Supreme Court Collegium reiterates appointment of Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan as judge of Bombay High Court

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The Supreme Court Collegium has again sought approval from the Central government on appointment of Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan as judge of the Bombay High Court.

A statement issued by the Collegium on Wednesday observed that expression of views by a candidate did not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office so long as the person proposed for judgeship was a person of competence, merit and integrity.

It said the issues on which opinions have been attributed to the candidate were in public domain and have been extensively deliberated upon in the print and electronic media. 

Headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph as its members, the Collegium observed that all citizens had the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. 

The manner in which the candidate has expressed his views did not justify the inference that he was a highly biased opinionated person or that he has been selectively critical on the social media on important policies, initiatives and directions of the Government (as indicated in the objections of Department of Justice), nor was there any material to indicate that the expressions used by the candidate were suggestive of his links with any political party with strong ideological leanings, it added. 

The statement said that the Advocate has specialised in commercial law and would be an asset to the Bombay High Court, which has a large volume of cases of commercial and securities laws, among other branches. 

It further said that the Department of Justice has adverted to paragraph 175 of the Second Judges Case [(1993) 4 SCC 441] to the effect that the candidate to be selected must possess high integrity, honesty, skill, high order of emotional stability, firmness, serenity, legal soundness, ability and endurance. 

Since Somasekhar Sundaresan fulfilled these qualities, he deserved to be appointed as Judge of the Bombay High Court, said the Collegium.

It noted that on October 4, 2021, the Collegium of Bombay High Court had recommended the name of Somasekhar Sundaresan for appointment as Judge in the same High Court. The approval received the nod of the Supreme Court Collegium on February 16 last year. However, on November 25, 2022, the Government sent the recommendation back to the Collegium for reconsideration.

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