New Delhi: Amidst appointments that created controversy, the names of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna were cleared by the Centre for elevation to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

With the Centre having received the collegium’s recommendations on 10 January, it cleared their names within 6 days.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Sanjiv Khanna, judge of the Delhi high court and Shri Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, chief justice of the Karnataka high court, to be a judge of the Supreme Court of India With effect from the date he assumes charge of his office", the notification stated.

Their names had been recommended by the collegium comprising the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices A. K. Sikri, S. A. Bobde, N. V. Ramana, Arun Mishra on 10 January.

The earlier collegium comprising of CJI Gogoi and Justices Madan B. Lokur, A. K. Sikri, S. A. Bobde and N. V. Ramana had recommended elevation of the Chief Justice of the Delhi high court Rajendra Menon and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog of the Delhi high court instead.

The collegium’s decision to elevate Justice Khanna was taken after it recalled its older recommendation of 12 December, 2018 wherein names of Chief Justice of the Delhi high court Rajendra Menon and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog of the Delhi high court were considered for elevation instead of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Dinesh Maheshwari .

This saw widespread protest within the legal community. On Wednesday, the Bar Council of India (BCI) asked the collegium comprising of the Chief Justice and four senior most judges of the Supreme Court to recall its decision of 10 January recommending the names of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dinesh Maheshwari for elevation to the Supreme Court, superseding several other judges of various high courts.

Justice Khanna is the nephew of Justice H.R. Khanna, a former Supreme Court judge who was the sole dissenting voice in the A.D.M. Jabalpur vs Shukla case in 1976, in which he said fundamental rights cannot be curtailed during an Emergency. Khanna was 33rd in the combined seniority of high court judges on an all-India basis.

“The recent decision of the Supreme Court collegium taken on 10 January recalling and reviewing earlier recommendation of 12 December, 2018 is viewed by the bar and the common man as unjust and improper", the bar council said.

It highlighted that the super session of several senior judges and chief justices of the country cannot be tolerated by the people and that the revocation of the earlier decision recommending the names of Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon would be viewed as “whimsical and arbitrary".

“The decision of 10 January will certainly lead to humiliation and demoralization of such judges and also other deserving senior judges and chief justices of high courts", it added.

On Tuesday, former Delhi High Court judge, Justice Kailash Gambhir, wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind questioning the collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Dinesh Maheshwari to the Supreme Court.

The letter called the decision to be “appalling and outrageous" and an “earth shattering decision" by the collegium tas it superseded as many as 32 judges, including several chief justices.

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