THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government has resubmitted the high court collegium‘s recommendations for the appointment of seven additional judges to the without making any changes in the nominations.
The Centre had pointed out that four of the seven lawyers failed to meet the stipulated rules under professional income criteria.
However, it has been reliably learnt that the government has not fully shielded the nominees. Instead, it has replied that the Centre can verify the details of income and returns filed by them which are available with the IT department.
The Kerala high court collegium led by former chief justice Antony Dominic had recommended the appointment of seven lawyers as additional judges in the high court. The recommendation was forwarded by the chief justice to chief minister on March 9, this year.
The state government subsequently forwarded the recommendation to the ministry of law and justice which found that four of them were unable to meet the criteria with regards to the minimum professional income stipulated as per the rules.
After the file was returned, the government had intimated the matter to the high court. The chief justice once again sent the same set of seven names back to the chief minister on March 20, but with fresh income certificates produced by the four lawyers who failed to meet the stipulated income criteria, as reported by TOI on Friday. The four lawyers who revised their income certificates ‘to suit the criterion‘ were P Gopal, S Ramesh, Viju Abraham and George Varghese.
According to the memorandum of procedure for appointment and transfer of chief justices and judges of high courts framed by the Supreme Court, the candidates should have a minimum average net professional income of Rs 7 lakh in the preceding five years for being considered for elevation to the post of judges.
While the fresh income certificates of the three lawyers merely carried the new figures without any accompanying explanations, the income certificate furnished by Viju Abraham said the certificate that he originally produced did not have the share of profit from partnership firm M/s United Maritime Law Chambers where he has been a partner since 2013-14. The revised income certificates have been produced in such a way that all of them now cross the minimum prescribed limit of Rs 7 lakh. Other than the above mentioned four lawyers, the list cleared by the collegium also include the names of V G Arun, N Nagaresh and P V Kunhikrishnan.
It has also been learnt that after the centre pointed out that allegations of moral turpitude have been raised against one of lawyers in the list, the state government clarified that there were no any evidences to support the allegations, and hence they can be ignored.
Of the total sanctioned strength of 47 judges in the high court, at present, there are nine vacancies to be filled up by candidates from the bar, including six vacancies that occurred due to enhancement of number of judges from 38 to 47, and three vacancies that occurred due to the retirement of two judges and elevation and transfer of another to another state.
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