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'Some Things Better Left Unsaid': Justice Kaul on Why Judges' Appointment Delays Matter Unlisted

The matter was supposed to be heard by the Justice Kaul bench on Tuesday but was deleted. The judge made clear that he had nothing to do with the deletion.
The Supreme Court of India. Photo: Pinakpani/Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

New Delhi: Justice S.K. Kaul on Tuesday (December 5) said in the Supreme Court that he did not know why a petition challenging the Union government’s delay in appointing judges whose name had been cleared by the Collegium was not being listed in front of him that day, despite it earlier being decided that it would be.

Justice Kaul said he had not deleted the matter from the cause list, nor was he unwilling to hear it.

A bench of Justices Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was informed by advocate Prashant Bhushan that the case had been deleted without any notice. Bhushan said, “It is strange that it is deleted,” and added that the bench “should ask for an explanation from the registry”.

“I had not deleted it or expressed unwillingness to take it up. I am sure the CJI is aware of it (the deletion). Some things are best left unsaid. We will see,” Justice Kaul responded, according to Bar and Bench.

The bench was hearing two petitions including one by the Bengaluru Advocates Association seeking contempt of court proceedings against the Union government for allegedly delaying clearing the names proposed by the Collegium. Justice Kaul, who is himself a member of the Collegium, had last heard the matter on November 20 and then posted it for December 5. He is set to retire on December 25.

When he last heard the matter, Justice Kaul had expressed displeasure over what he called the Centre’s “pick and choose” attitude. According to him, “Of the names recommended for appointment as HC judges recently, eight have not been cleared, including some who are senior to those who have been appointed. Besides, five names from the earlier lot which were reiterated, too, have not been appointed.”

He had added, according to The Indian Express, “What has troubled us is this. Even now, the last lot of names, we considered the opinions of the government, took into account all the material, (but) not even 50 per cent of the names are cleared. Out of that also, when you detain eight names, it upsets the seniority, and sends a very wrong signal.”

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