Chief Justice of India NV Ramana strongly criticised media reports on Wednesday, 18 August, which claimed that the Supreme Court collegium had finalised a list of nine recommendations for appointment as apex court judges.
"Today’s reflections in some sections of the media, pending the process, even before formalising the resolution is counter productive," the CJI said, speaking at the reference for Justice Navin Sinha, who retired as Supreme Court judge on Wednesday.
Reports in some newspapers and legal news portals had claimed that the collegium had cleared nine names to be sent to the union government, including three women judges, with one of them, Justice BV Nagarathna (currently a judge of the Karnataka High Court) having a chance to become India's first woman CJI in 2027.
The reports had claimed that Justice Akil Kureshi, the chief justice of the Tripura High Court, had not made it to the list despite him being second on the all-India seniority list among the high court judges.
A failure to include his name in the collegium recommendations has been cited as the reason for the lack of appointments to the Supreme Court in the last 18 months despite mounting vacancies.
Justice Rohinton Nariman, who retired from the court on 12 August, is said to have refused to clear any recommendations for the apex court if they did not include Justice Kureshi.
CJI Ramana has taken exception to the "speculation" caused by the news reports.
"There were instances of deserving career progression of bright talents getting marred because of such irresponsible reporting and speculation. This is very unfortunate and I am extremely upset about it."CJI NV Ramana
"You are all aware we need to appoint judges to this court," the CJI had begun by saying. "The process is ongoing. Meetings will be held and decisions will be taken. The process of appointment of judges is sacrosanct and has certain dignity attached to it. My media friends must understand and recognise the sanctity of this process."
At the same time, the CJI also applauded those journalists who had not reported on the leaked information.
"I must also place on record tremendous amount of maturity and responsibility displayed by majority of the senior journalists and media houses in showing restraint and not speculating on such a serious matter. Such professional journalists and ethical media are the real strength of the Supreme Court in particular and democracy in general. You are part of our system. I expect all the stakeholders to uphold the integrity and dignity of this institution."