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Centre to ignore Khattar, appoint four lawyers as Punjab & Haryana High Court judges

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The Supreme Court had also overlooked the objection raised by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to candidates from Punjab.

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has decided to ignore objections raised by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to process the appointment of four lawyers as judges of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, sources told ThePrint.

The Supreme Court collegium had, on 4 September, cleared the names of lawyers Manjari Nehru Kaul, Harsimran Singh Sethi, Arun Kumar Monga and Manoj Bajaj for appointment as judges, while deferring the call on eight other candidates recommended by the high court collegium.


Also read: Supreme Court collegium clears names for two high courts, rejects objections


In doing so, the Supreme Court collegium had also ignored objections raised by Khattar about Kaul and Monga, and two others.

The union law ministry intends to clear the four appointments in the next few days, with the order likely next week.

What were Khattar’s objections?

After the high court collegium cleared the 12 names, Khattar defied precedent to object to four nominees who were from Punjab. According to the settled procedure, the names recommended by the collegium are sent to the chief minister of the state over which the high court has jurisdiction. The Punjab & Haryana High Court has jurisdiction over the two states as well as the union territory of Chandigarh. So, the names of candidates from each state are run past their respective chief ministers.

As first reported by ThePrint, this was the first instance of a chief minister objecting in writing to the elevation of candidates from another state as judges for a shared court.

The Haryana chief minister had voiced his disapproval in a letter addressed to the Haryana governor.

According to Khattar, Monga was not even enrolled as a lawyer in Punjab and was permanently settled in the national capital. He also underlined the fact that Monga had appeared in the Punjab and Haryana High Court “only in 12 reported and 11 unreported cases”.

As for Nehru, Khattar had objected to her name being recommended on the ground that she had worked “mainly in the office of the Punjab advocate general” and that “there are other women lawyers in the Bar who are much younger and more experienced than her and they can be considered and recommended”.


Also read: An all-women bench will hold court in Supreme Court next week. Only the second time ever


His Punjab counterpart, Captain Amarinder Singh, had taken serious objection to the letter, pointing out that he (Amarinder) had not commented on the suitability of the four Haryana lawyers.

“As per established procedure, if such comments have been made, these should have been referred to us for further clarifications, if any. Unfortunately, comments/views of the chief minister, Haryana, have not been conveyed to us,” Amarinder said in a letter to the Punjab governor.

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