SC Collegium recommends 3 Delhi judicial officers’ names for HC judgeship

Supreme Court,
Representational image.

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud has recommended to the Centre the names of judicial officers Girish Kathpalia, Dharmesh Sharma and Manoj Jain for their appointment as Delhi High Court judges.

Delhi High Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 60, has 45 judges, including 10 women judges, at present. If the three names recommended by the Collegium, which also includes Justice SK Kaul and Justice KM Joseph, are accepted, the high court’s strength will rise to 48 — 12 short of full strength.

The resolution noted that on December 22, the Chief Justice of the High Court, in consultation with his two senior-most colleagues, recommended the elevation of three judicial officers as high court judges. The apex courts Collegium received the file from the Union Law Ministry on April 7.

The Collegium on April 12 ascertained “the fitness and suitability” of the judicial officers for elevation and consulted the apex court judges “conversant with the affairs of the High Court of Delhi”, it said.

“For the purpose of assessing the merit and suitability of the above-named judicial officers for elevation to the High Court of Delhi, we have scrutinised and evaluated the material placed on record including the observations made by the Department of Justice and certain complaints/representations placed before us,” the collegium said.

Before recommending the names of the three judicial officers to the Centre, the Collegium considered the report of the Judgment Evaluation Committee, which graded the judgments authored by them as “outstanding”. The Chief Justice of India-led collegium also took note of Intelligence Bureau reports on these officers that they have “good personal and professional image” and “nothing adverse” has come to notice against their integrity.

“In view of the above, the Collegium resolves to recommend that Girish Kathpalia, Dharmesh Sharma, and Manoj Jain, judicial officers, be appointed as Judges of the High Court of Delhi. “Their inter se seniority be fixed as per the existing practice,” it said.

Kathpalia is the senior most judicial officer of the higher judicial service in the national capital and was once the administrative head of all trial courts. He had organised COVID-19 testing camps on the courts complex for judges and staff members. He was the district judge at the Tis Hazari courts premises and heard matters related to lawyers-police clashes.

Sharma held trial in the sensational Unnao cases, including the rape case. In a case of terrorism, Sharma had held that “mere possession of Jihadi literature having a particular religious philosophy”.

He had also heard the matter related to the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012.

Special judge Jain heard matters, including an alleged medical college corruption case against retired Chhattisgarh High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddusi. Later, he was appointed as Registrar General at Delhi High Court.

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