Supreme Court: Supreme Court Collegium comprising of Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, CJI, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ. Recommended:
➢ The name of Justice Robin Phukan, Additional Judge, for appointment as permanent Judge of the Gauhati High Court.
The Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court in consultation with his two senior-most colleagues recommended the name of Justice Robin Phukan for appointment as a permanent Judge of that High Court. Further, on 28-04-2023 the file was received in the Supreme Court from the Department of Justice.
The Chief Ministers of the States of Assam, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh and the Governors of the States of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh have concurred with the recommendation.
The Collegium considered the view of the Supreme Court Judges conversant with the affairs of the Gauhati High Court in terms of the Memorandum of Procedure, to ascertain the fitness and suitability of Justice Robin Phukan for being appointed as a permanent Judge.
The Collegium also took note of the report of the Committee constituted to assess the Judgments of Justice Robin Phukan, wherein the Committee has stated that judgments rendered by him are well articulated, well-structured and has clarity with precision and lucidity.
The Collegium has scrutinized and evaluated the material placed on record including the observations made by the Department of Justice in the file, as well as the report of the Judgment Evaluation Committee to assess the merit and suitability of Justice Robin Phukan for his appointment as a permanent Judge.
Thus, the Collegium viewed that he is suitable for being appointed as a permanent Judge of the Gauhati High Court.
➢ The names of Advocates Shailesh Pramod Brahme, Firdosh Phiroze Pooniwalla and Jitendra Shantilal Jain for appointment as Judges of the Bombay High Court
The Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court has made the recommendation in consultation with his two senior-most colleagues. The file was forwarded by the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court on 26-04-2023. The Chief Ministers and the Governors of the States of Maharashtra and Goa have concurred with the recommendation.
The Collegium also scrutinized and evaluated the material placed on record and the observations made by the Department of Justice in the file for assessing the merit and suitability of the candidates for elevation to the High Court.
Shailesh Pramod Brahme
The Collegium stated that Shailesh Pramod Brahme is a competent lawyer with experience of about thirty years of practice in civil, criminal, constitutional and service law cases. Further, nothing adverse has been placed by the Department of Justice in the file. Thus, the Collegium opined that he is eminently suitable for appointment as a Judge of the High Court of Bombay.
Firdosh Phiroze Pooniwalla
The Collegium said that the Intelligence Bureau has stated in its report that Firdosh Phiroze Pooniwalla has a good personal and professional image and that nothing adverse has come to notice regarding his integrity and that he is not associated with any political party. However, the Bureau has flagged that he had earlier worked under an advocate, who has written an article in a publication in 2020 expressing concerns over the alleged lack of freedom of speech/expression in the country in the last 5-6 years. But, as per the Collegium the views which have been expressed by a former senior of Pooniwalla have no bearing on his own competence, ability or credentials for appointment as a Judge of the Bombay High Court.
Moreover, the Collegium noted that he and his former senior practiced on the original side of theBombay High Court. Junior counsel associated with the chamber of a senior on the original side are not engaged in a relationship of employer-employee with their senior. While juniors are associated with the chamber, they are free to do their own work and are entitled to independent legal practice.
The Collegium also stated that no adverse comments reflecting on his suitability as a candidate for elevation have been made in the file. He has an extensive practice at the Bar and is specialised in commercial law. Further, Pooniwalla professes Parsi Zoroastrianism and belongs to a minority community.
Thus, keeping in mind the above aspects and on an overall consideration of the proposal for his elevation, the Collegium opined that Firdosh Phiroze Pooniwalla is suitable for appointment as a Judge of the Bombay High Court.
Jitendra Shantilal Jain
The collegium considered the inputs provided by the Intelligence Bureau and noted that nothing adverse has been reported about Jitendra Shantilal Jain’s integrity. The consultee-judges have found him suitable for elevation.
The Collegium stated that he has acquired considerable experience during his 25 years of practice with specialization in tax litigation. The Bombay High Court of Bombay has a large volume of tax-related cases and a candidate with such a background would be an asset to the work of the High Court.
On enquiries being made by a member of the Collegium conversant with the affairs of the Bombay High Court on the issue flagged by the Intelligence Bureau pertaining to his work in the chamber of a senior on the taxation side about 20 years ago, the Collegium stated that the said enquiries have indicated that while it is correct that the candidate had ceased working in the chamber of that senior, he subsequently joined the chamber of a noted senior counsel at the Bar.
As per the Collegium, the fact of Jitendra Shantilal Jain leaving the chamber of a senior earlier has no bearing on his ability, competence or integrity.
Thus, the Collegium opined that Jitendra Shantilal Jain is suitable for appointment as a Judge of the Bombay High Court.