Centre objects to ex-Chief Justice’s proposals for 17 postings in Rajasthan HC

The Centre has objected to the recommendations for appointment of judges to the Rajasthan High Court made by former Chief Justice Akil Kureshi, The Sunday Express has learnt.

In February, the three-judge collegium of the Rajasthan High Court, led by then Chief Justice Kureshi, had made recommendations of at least 17 candidates, including advocates and judges from the district judiciary to be appointed as judges of the High Court.

It is learnt that the list contains names of eight advocates: four each from the Jaipur Bar and the Jodhpur Bar. Against a sanctioned strength of 50 judges, the Rajasthan HC has 27 judges.

Sources told The Sunday Express that the Centre has asked the collegium to return the names from the Bar to the High Court for fresh consideration on the grounds that these names were sent just a month before Justice Kureshi had retired.

Justice Kureshi was Chief Justice of the High Court for a little over five months from October 12, 2021 to March 6, 2022. Justice Kureshi, when he was Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court, was at the centre of two-year-long deadlock in the Supreme Court collegium over his appointment as SC judge. When Justice N V Ramana took over as the Chief Justice of India in August 2021, the SC collegium recommended nine names, leaving Kureshi’s out – he was then No. 2 in the All-India List of seniority for judges of high courts. He was transferred from Tripura to Rajasthan.

It is learnt that the file is pending before the Supreme Court collegium which may seek the state government’s view on whether there is any adverse intelligence inputs on any of the recommendations individually, said a source.

There is a precedent. In September last year, the collegium had yielded to objections by the Centre and sent back 18 recommendations of advocates made in 2020 by then Bombay High Court Chief Justice BP Dharmadhikari.

The Centre’s objection then was similar, that Justice Dharmadhikari had a short stint — as Acting Chief Justice and Chief Justice — of just over two months. The Bombay High Court then sent a fresh list of 10 advocates.

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