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According to news reports, the Centre has rejected the recommendation to elevate Bose and Bopanna JJ, as it would go against the principle of regional representation. The parent high courts of the two judges – the High Courts of Calcutta and Karnataka – are already adequately represented in the Supreme Court, the Centre reportedly said.
While the Calcutta High Court is represented by Justice Indira Banerjee in the Supreme Court, the Karnataka High Court has two of its own at the Apex Court – Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Abdul Nazeer.
Justices Bose and Bopanna are currently Chief Justices of the Jharkhand High Court and the Gauhati High Court respectively. Justice Bose stands at the all India seniority of Sl no. 12 in the combined seniority list of all India High Court judges, while Justice Bopanna stands at Sl no. 36. The Collegium resolution dated April 12 notes,
“While recommending the names of Mr. Justices Aniruddha Bose and A.S. Bopanna, the Collegium has taken into consideration, apart from their merit and integrity, combined seniority on all-India basis of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of High Courts. The Collegium has also kept in mind the desirability of giving due representation on the Bench of the Supreme Court, as far as possible, to all the High Courts.”
This is the second time that the Centre has blocked a recommendation with respect to Justice Aniruddha Bose. In July last year, it had rejected the Collegium’s recommendation to make him Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. The Collegium later recommended him as Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court, a move that was not resisted by the Centre.
Reports suggest that the Modi government has earned the dubious distinction of rejecting the highest number of Collegium recommendations of any government at the Centre. A petition filed in the Supreme Court in August last year referred to at least six instances where appointments/elevations have been reiterated by the Collegium after the Centre initially objected to them.
The most controversial of rejections was that of Justice KM Joseph, who eventually found his way to the Supreme Court. The Centre had sent back his name ostensibly in view of the Uttarakhand President’s Rule judgment he delivered while serving as Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. However, after much deliberation, the Collegium eventually reiterated its decision to elevate him to the Supreme Court.