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Supreme Court judge, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has written to the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi against the decision of the Collegium to reconsider Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog for elevation to Supreme Court.
According to Times of India, Kaul J. has sent his opinion in writing to the Collegium stating that Nandrajog is the senior-most among the judges in the zone of consideration and a wrong signal will be sent if he is passed over.
On January 10, the Supreme Court Collegium had decided to elevate Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dinesh Maheshwari to the Supreme Court.
Kaul J. has clarified in his letter than he has nothing against Sanjiv Khanna J. but Khanna J. could wait for his turn to be elevated.
Justice Khanna is 33rd in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on an all-India basis while Justice Dinesh Maheshwari had been superseded by Justice Ajay Rastogi once.
Further, Justices Maheshwari and Khanna were not in the zone of consideration in the last few months. Rather, the names that were doing the rounds included current Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal, and Delhi High Court judge, Justice S Ravindra Bhat.
In fact, there were strong indications that the Collegium had decided on December 12 last year to elevate Justices Menon and Nandrajog to the Supreme Court.
The Collegium resolution elevating Justices Khanna and Maheshwari also mentioned that some decisions were taken on December 12 last year but the same could not be taken to its conclusion as winter vacation intervened. Subsequently, when the Collegium met again after the court re-opened, it decided to have a fresh look at the matter.
Interestingly, the ToI report states that the decision of December 12 to elevate Justices Nandrajog and Menon had been signed by all the Collegium members. However, CJI Gogoi was upset that the decision was leaked to the media before it could be sent to the President and sought reconsideration of the decision.
All these factors had left the members of the Bar and Bench flummoxed.
Former Delhi High Court judge, Justice (Retd.) Kailash Gambhir had also written to the President of India objecting to the Collegium recommendations and urging him to prevent a “historical blunder”.