ANI Photo | Expression of views by candidate does not disentitle him to hold constitutional office: SC collegium

While reiterating its recommendations for appointing advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan as a judge of the Bombay High Court, the Supreme Court Collegium said that citizens have the right to free speech and expression of views by a candidate does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office.
The remarks were made in a resolution passed by the Supreme Court Collegium of three judges: Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph.
“All citizens have the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Expression of views by a candidate does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office so long as the person proposed for a judgeship is a person of competence, merit and integrity,” the Collegium said.
The Supreme Court Collegium has reiterated its recommendations for appointing Somasekhar Sundaresan, Advocate as Judge of the Bombay High Court and advocates Amitesh Banerjee, and Sakya Sen as Judges of the Calcutta High Court.
On 4 October 2021, the Collegium of Bombay High Court recommended the name of Somasekhar Sundaresan. On February 16, 2022, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the name of Somasekhar Sundaresan for appointment as a Judge of the Bombay High Court. On November 25, 2022, the Government has sought reconsideration of the said recommendation.
The ground on which reconsideration of the candidature of Sundaresan has been sought by the Government was that he has aired his views in social media on several matters which are the subject matter of consideration before the courts, the Collegium noted.
“Having considered the objection to the candidature of Somasekhar Sundaresan, the Collegium is of the view that the views on social media attributed to the candidate, do not furnish any foundation to infer that he is biased. The issues on which opinions have been attributed to the candidate are in the public domain and have been extensively deliberated upon in the print and electronic media,” SC Collegium said.
“The manner in which the candidate has expressed his views does not justify the inference that he is a “highly biased opinionated person” or that he has been “selectively critical on the social media on the important policies, initiatives and directions of the Government” (as indicated in the objections of Department of Justice) nor is there any material to indicate that the expressions used by the candidate are suggestive of his links with any political party with strong ideological leanings,” the collegium said.

“All citizens have the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. 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.”
“Somasekhar Sundaresan has specialized in commercial law and would be an asset to the Bombay High Court which has a large volume of cases of commercial and securities laws, among other branches,” the SC collegium said.
The Collegium said that Somasekhar Sundaresan fulfills the qualities that Department of Justice has set up for selection.
“Having regard to the above, the Collegium is of the considered view that Shri Somasekhar Sundaresan deserves to be appointed as Judge of the Bombay High Court. The Collegium, therefore, resolves to reiterate its recommendation dated 16 February 2022 for appointment of Shri Somasekhar Sundaresan, Advocate, as Judge of the Bombay High Court,” the Collegium said.
The Collegium also resolved to return the file for processing the recommendations for the appointment of advocates Amitesh Banerjee and Sakya Sen as Judges of the Calcutta High Court.
The names of Amitesh Banerjee and Sakya Sen were recommended by the Collegium of the Calcutta High Court on December 17, 2018. The Supreme Court Collegium approved the proposal on 24 July 2019. After the Department of Justice referred back their names on July 23, 2021, the Supreme Court Collegium reiterated its earlier recommendation in respect of Amitesh Banerjee on September 1, 2021.
On September 27, 2021, the Department of Justice forwarded additional inputs of the IB dated 24 September 2021 in respect of Sakya Sen. The Supreme Court Collegium reiterated its earlier recommendation on 8 October 2021 for the elevation of Sakya Sen. The Department of Justice has referred back the file on November 25, 2022.
“The inputs which have been furnished by the Department of Justice in the file on 25 November 2022 do not contain any fresh material or ground. Moreover, after the Supreme Court Collegium reiterated the proposal on 01 September 2021, it was not open to the Department to repeatedly send back the same proposal which has been reiterated by the Supreme Court Collegium after duly considering the objections of the Government,” the collegium said.
“All citizens have the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. 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,” the Collegium said.

This report is filed by ANI news service. TheNewsMill holds no responsibility for this content.

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