Justice Madan B Lokur, one of the four judges along with Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who had questioned Supreme Court’s functioning in an unprecedented press conference last year, has once again expressed his disappointment over the CJI’s decision to not to notify the Supreme Court Collegium’s decision to elevate two High Court judges. Justice Lokur, whom CJI Gogoi had once described as his “right-hand man”, had demitted the office on December 12 and was part of the five-member collegium that reportedly approved Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon’s elevation to the top court.
However, following his retirement, Delhi High Court judge Sanjiv Khanna and Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Justice Dinesh Maheshwari were elevated to the Supreme Court instead of justices Nandrajog and Menon.
Speaking at an interaction 'State of the Indian Judiciary' in Delhi, Justice Lokur said, “There is no standard operating procedure but once a resolution is passed, it should be put on the website. It does disappoint me. In the normal course, it should have been.”
When asked to comment on the change of decision to elevate Justices Khanna and Maheshwari instead of Nandrajog and Menon, Justice Lokur said that he wasn’t aware of what happened in the Supreme Court and what additional information came after December 12 (his retirement).
Although Justice Lokur said that he didn’t think that the Collegium system has failed, he advocated some changes in the system. He said that there must be some mechanism and timeline for the judiciary as well as the government to clear the recommendations.
A controversy erupted after a retired judge of Delhi High Court, Justice Kailash Gambhir, wrote a letter to President Ram Kovind objecting the Collegium’s decision to elevate Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari. In his letter, he said that the Collegium was scheduled to recommend Delhi HC Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog. “With a change in Collegium, why is there a change in the decision?" he asked.
"In a sense, you are superseding 3 senior judges of the Delhi High Court. There is a supersession of 32 judges if we see the all India seniority," Gambhir added.
Justice Maheshwari stands at Sl. No. 21 in the combined seniority of high court judges on the all-India basis. Justice Khanna was appointed a judge of the Delhi High Court on June 24, 2005, and since has been functioning there. He stands at Sl.No. 33 in the combined seniority of high court judges on the all-India basis.