Of nine names that the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had proposed, the Supreme Court Collegium has cleared three names and sent these to the Union Law Ministry for appointment as judges, sources told Greater Kashmir on Thursday.
The SC collegium comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Jasti Chelamesar cleared the names of M K Hanjura, Sanjay Kumar Gupta and S K Shukla and forwarded the panel to the Union Law Ministry.
Notably, Hanjura is presently serving as Presiding Officer of Food Safety Appellate Tribunal Jammu while Sanjay Kumar is Principal District and Sessions Judge Jammu. Advocate S K Shukla is a practicing lawyer in Jammu Wing of the High Court.
In February 2016, a Collegium of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court headed by Chief Justice had sent its confidential report on recommendation of judges to the Governor, Union Law Ministry and the Supreme Court.
The High Court had proposed names of four advocates Javed Kawoosa, M S Latif, Nasir Hussain Shah, Muhammad Yousuf Bhat from Kashmir region and Advocates G S Thakur, RK Gupta and S K Shukla from Jammu, besides a serving judicial officer Sanjy Gupta. Moreover, it had recommended two former senior Judicial Officers, M K Hanjura and Kaneez Fatima too.
Sources in J&K High Court, however, told Greater Kashmir that nothing can be said about the fate of names that have been reportedly rejected unless the High Court gets a formal communication from the apex court in this regard.
"As of now we have not received confirmation about the rejection of any name," they said.
The file cleared by the SC Collegium, according to sources, is in possession of Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs and from there it will go to the Prime Minister's Office and eventually to the office of the President.
While the sanctioned strength of judges of the J&K High Court is 17 including the Chief Justice, there are only nine judges at present—Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed, Justice R Sudhakar, Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir, Justice Alok Aradhe, Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Justice Tashi Rabstan, Justice Janak Raj Kotwal and Justice Bawa Singh Walia,.
The last appointment of judges to J&K High Court was made on March 9, 2013, when it got two permanent judges—Justice Ali Muhammad Magray, Justice Dheeraj Singh Thakur, besides three additional judges including Justice Tashi Rabstan, Justice Bansi Lal Bhat and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal, who subsequently took over as permanent judges.
As per the existing Memorandum of Procedure, the proposal for appointment of a High Court Judge has to be initiated by the Chief Justice of the High Court. However, if the Chief Minister desires to recommend the name of any person he or she can forward the same to the Chief Justice for his consideration.
Pertinently, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court was established in 1928 by letters patent issued by the Maharaja of Jammu Kashmir and had initially sanctioned judge strength of 14. The strength now has been increased to 17 including the Chief Justice.
The Maharaja appointed Lala Kanwar Sain as the first Chief Justice and Lala Bodh Raj Sawhney and Khan Sahib Aga Syed Hussain as Puisne Judges. On September, 10 1943, letters patent were conferred on the High Court by the Maharaja. Khan Sahib Aga Syed Hussain was the first Muslim Judge of the High Court. He retired as Home and Judicial Minister of Jammu and Kashmir during the Maharaja Rule.