A five-member Supreme Court Collegium had on January 11 recommended the elevation of the two to the top court.
New Delhi: Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Delhi High Court judge Sanjiv Khanna were on Wednesday elevated as judges of the Supreme Court, the government said. This comes amid the legal fraternity terming the decision as "whimsical and arbitrary" and questioning the elevation of judges by superseding several other judges.
The five-member Supreme Court Collegium had on January 11 recommended the elevation of the two to the top court.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday evening approved the recommendation and appointed the two judges with effect from the date they assume charge of their offices.
On December 12, the Collegium -- which comprises the top five judges of the Supreme Court -- had recommended Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice Rajendra Menon and Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog for elevation to the top court.
However, the decision was reversed on January 10 by the new collegium, which sent the names of Justice Maheshwari and Justice Khanna for elevation.
"While recommending the names of justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, the collegium has taken into consideration combined seniority on all-India basis of Chief Justices and senior puisne judges of high courts, apart from their merit and integrity," the collegium said.
The decision has met criticism from some sections of the legal fraternity which argue that the supersession will be unfair to many senior judges, including Justice Nandrajog.
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Supreme Court wrote a note to the CJI and other members of the collegium -- Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Arun Mishra – raised his reservations for ignoring the seniority of Justices Menon and Nandrajog.
Justice Kailash Gambhir, former Delhi High Court judge, had also written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind on January 14 expressing concern over bypassing several judges’ seniority by the collegium.
The Bar Council of India (BCI) also protested the recommendation and termed it as "whimsical and arbitrary".
While maintaining that the BCI was hard-pressed to raise these issues, it said even the Bar Council of Delhi has also taken resolution against the decision of the collegium.
BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said, “Our delegation will go and meet the collegium to ask them to reconsider and recall this decision. If they don't do it, we'll go and sit on a dharna.”
(With inputs from agencies)