SC refuses to entertain district judge’s petition for elevation to HC alleging discrimination

The Dalit judge claimed in his petition that his seniority was overlooked by the Karnataka HC collegium but the SC said he had approached it at the eleventh hour

Judge RKGMM Mahaswamiji (Photo courtesy: social media)
Judge RKGMM Mahaswamiji (Photo courtesy: social media)

NH Political Bureau

The Supreme Court on Monday has refused to entertain a petition filed by a Dalit district judge from Karnataka against alleged caste-based discrimination, saying “it was filed at eleventh hour”.

The Dalit judge, RKGMM Mahaswamiji has approached the Supreme Court against Karnataka HC collegium’s decision to promote his junior “overlooking his seniority”.

In his petition, Mahaswamiji who worked as Shivamogga principal district judge, said that the Karnataka HC collegium overlooked his relative seniority in recommending “junior district judge” Padmaraj N. Desai for elevation to the Karnataka High Court.

Challenging the appointment, the Dalit judge approached the SC nearly half an hour before Justice Desai was sworn in, reported the media.

Saying that the collegium’s recommendation was “in clear violation of statutory rules/ administrative instructions”, Mahaswami ji in his petition argued, “It is a case of superseding/ passing over of a senior district judge (who was appointed on 25.02.2008 under reserved category, i.e., Schedule Caste) by junior district judge…The recommendation involved bias of malafide and… clearly violated the functional rights guaranteed to the petitioner under Articles 14 (equality before law ) and 16 (equality in matters of public employment)”.

Hearing the petition, a bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, declined to pass any directive, concluding the petitioner had approached the court at the “eleventh hour”.

It is important to recall here that Justice Desai’s name was cleared by the high court collegium in July 2019 and was approved by the Supreme Court collegium early this year. The Union law ministry had issued the notification for the swearing-in on April 30.

According to experts, the high court collegium, comprising the chief justice of the high court concerned along with two senior-most judges, recommends the names after consultations with the state government.

Once the high court finalizes the names they are sent to the Supreme Court collegium, comprising the Chief Justice of India and other senior-most judges. Once the Supreme Court collegium clears the names, they are sent to the Union law ministry for approval, following which a notification is issued.

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