The union law ministry can now proceed with processing of 12 names recommended by the Madras High Court for elevation as its judges as the Supreme Court Monday vacated the high court's status quo order.
A bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice J. Chelameswar, while staying the high court order, also issued notice on the plea seeking transfer of proceedings before the high court to itself.
The notice has been issued to senior counsel R. Gandhi practising in the high court on whose petition the high court restrained the ministry from going ahead with processing of the 12 names.
Staying the operation of the high court order, the apex court noted: "What was passed by the high court was only a recommendation that has to pass through various filtration ... as such order stands vacated."
Appearing for the registrar general of the Madras High Court, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court that the process of selection of judges was not subject to judicial review.
He said if any of the recommended candidates was not eligible for appointment as judges, then it is a different matter but the selection process as such is not subject to judicial scrutiny.
Recalling the Jan 8 incident when during the hearing of the PIL by Gandhi, sitting high court judge Justice C.S. Karnan entered the court room and questioned the selection of candidates and described it as unfair, Vahanvati told the court that because of this, the entire atmosphere has got vitiated and the apex court should call the matter to itself.
Justice Karnan, while slamming the collegium system for selection of judges, had told the court of Justice V. Dhanapalan and Justice K.K. Sasidharan that he too was a part of the judiciary and would file an affidavit in his own name.
The division bench of the Madras High had January 8 ordered the status quo on Gandhi's PIL.
The names recommended in December 2013 had created a furore after the list became public as it was alleged that list was tilted in the favour of a certain section of social hierarchy.