New Delhi, Mar 17: Maintaining that generally it's not a practice to seek Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) reports on proposals for appointment of judges in high courts and the Supreme Court, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday told the Lok Sabha that it's done only in “extraordinary circumstances, involving issues related to national security”.
The government had objected to the recommendation to appoint gay advocate Saurabh Kirpal as a judge of the Delhi High Court, citing RAW reports that talked about his sexual orientation and his Swiss partner and raised apprehensions about national security.
However, the Supreme Court Collegium had rejected the Centre's objections, saying there was no reason to pre-suppose that his partner — a Swiss national — would be inimically disposed to India, since the country of his origin was a friendly nation.
In response to a question from Manish Tewari, the Law Minister said the Supreme Court has observed in a recent order that political background by itself has “not been an absolute bar” to appoint an otherwise suitable person as a judge.
According to the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges of high courts, the proposals recommended by High Court collegiums are to be considered in the light of “such other reports/inputs as may be available” to the government for assessing the suitability in respect of the names under consideration.
“Accordingly, IB (Intelligence Bureau) inputs are obtained and provided to the Supreme Court Collegium for making assessment on the recommendees,” he said.
To a question on the Supreme Court Collegium making public portions of an RAW report on an advocate recommended for elevation as a judge of the Delhi High Court, he said the report had mentioned the “sexuality” of the candidate.
“Generally, it is not a practice to seek R&AW reports on proposals for appointment of judges in the high courts and the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances, involving issues related to national security,” Rijiju said.
“The Supreme Court Collegium has also opined that political leanings or expression of views by a candidate does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office so long as the person proposed for judgeship is a person of competence, merit and integrity,” he noted.
As an important stakeholder in the process of appointment of judges in high courts and as laid down in the Memorandum of Procedure, the Government provides inputs which mainly contain information on the suitability, competence and integrity of candidates under consideration for appointment to high constitutional post in the judiciary, Rijiju said.