Amidst Collegium Row SC Dismisses Petition Seeking The Details Of A Meeting Over Judges' Appointment

Justice Madan B Lokur in January 2019 expressed his disappointment over the non-publication of the decision taken by the collegium on December 12, 2018 meeting.

Supreme Court of India

Amidst the tug of war between the Supreme Court and the government over the collegium system and the appointment of the judges, the apex court yesterday dismissed a plea that sought to know what transpired in the meeting of the collegium on December 12, 2018.

RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj filed the case in the SC challenging the Delhi HC verdict that denied divulging the agenda of the meeting of the collegium on the same day that purportedly took some decisions regarding the elevation of some judges. Bhardwaj asked for the details of the meeting under the Right to Information Act.

Dismissing Bharadwaj’s plea the SC said that only the resolution signed by all the collegium members can be considered as a final decision and can be divulged to public. Any tentative decision taken during any meeting of the collegium cannot be considered final unless signed by all, SC added.

The bench of justice MR Shah and CT Ravikumar said, “Collegium is a multi-member body whose tentative decision cannot be brought in the public domain.”

The judges also noted that the petitioner filed the petition on the basis of some media reports and the ‘interview’ that was given by a former SC judge who was then present in the meeting.

“We do not want to comment on the same. The subsequent resolution was very clear. There is no substance in the (petition), it deserves to be dismissed,” the bench added.

What was the meeting all about?

The meeting refers to a collegium meeting under the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi where Justices Madan B Lokur, AK Sikri, SA Bobde and NV Ramana were also present. Referring to the meeting in 2019, Justice Madan B Lokur said that he was disappointed over the fact that the resolution of the meeting was not uploaded.

SC on January 12, 2019 said that their December 12 meeting didn’t reach any final decision and only consultations were held over some names without reaching any conclusion. Notably, by the time the statement came, Justice Lokur had already retired and the composition of the collegium had been changed.

What did Justice Lokur say?

Justice Madan B Lokur had demitted the office on December 30, 2018. In January, 2019 during a lecture organised by a law portal he expressed his disappointment over the non-publication of the decisions taken during the collegium meeting of December 12, 2018.

He said that he didn’t follow what documents came up after he retired. As per the media reports, on that day the collegium agreed to elevate Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon to the SC. However, as per the later notification Delhi High Court judge Sanjiv Khanna and Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Justice Dinesh Maheshwari were taken to the apex court ensuing the controversy.