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SC no to early hearing of PIL in judge extension row

Posted on Jul 24 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, July 24 : The Supreme Court Thursday declined to hold early hearing of a plea seeking a probe to ascertain the role of then prime minister Manmohan Singh and law minister H.R. Bhardwaj in not informing the president of all the facts including an adverse report about Justice S. Ashok Kumar while clearing his extension as additional judge of the Madras High Court.

A bench of Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Arun Mishra, while declining to the plea by advocate M.L. Sharma for an early hearing, said they would let the matter come in due course. Sharma had sought the hearing of his plea early next week.

Sharma who mentioned the matter Thursday said that Justice Ashok Kumar's issue was being relied upon to attack the independence of judiciary as the government has seized this opportunity to push the National Judicial Commission (NJC) for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

He contended that if the government succeeds in substituting the collegium system of appointing judges by NJC then they would push their own men in the judiciary, and this would spell an end to the independence of judiciary which is being targeted for its activism by the politicians.

Sharma in his PIL has urged the court to call for all the records that were sent to the president while clearing the extension of Justice Ashok Kumar despite an adverse report by the then high court chief justice Markandey Katju.

Sharma has contended that holding back the entire information from the President by Manmohan Singh government was an offence under Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act.

Despite a negative IB report and the initial denial by the then chief justice of India, Sharma wondered how could the government send recommendation for extending his tenure of Justice Ashok Kumar as additional judge without apprising the president of the full facts.

The petition has sought direction that henceforth no lawyer associated with political parties be appointed as the judge of the higher judiciary and at any other levels in order to maintain their independence and impartiality.

Sharma also sought direction that in future before a senior counsel is considered for appointment as judge and his name is recommended, an Intelligence Bureau report should be called about him.

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