New Delhi: Last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court collegium, headed by then-chief justice Krishna Murari, recommended the name of advocate Pratap Singh for elevation to the bench of the high court
Within hours, an old video showing a purportedly high-spirited Singh swinging to the tune of the hit 1980s Bollywood number ‘I am a disco dancer’, with a glass in his hand, went viral on WhatsApp groups.
Now, it appears, the Modi government has also seen the video, and has recommended to the Supreme Court collegium not to elevate Singh to the bench.
Sources in the Supreme Court told ThePrint that the central government has said in its recommendation that Singh doesn’t have the necessary credentials to become a judge of the high court. The central government’s note, it is learnt, also refers to the video, as well as the fact that there were a couple of criminal cases registered against him when he was a student. Singh was later acquitted in those cases.
Singh told ThePrint that such a video was being circulated but denied he was the person dancing in it.
“The video that is being flashed with my name… It is only being done to tarnish my image, to target me. It (the video) is not mine,” he said.
Who is Pratap Singh?
Pratap Singh is a former chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, and is currently a member of the Bar Council of India, the statutory regulatory and disciplinary body of lawyers in the country.
Legal sources said the purported video is from an event organised in the auditorium of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, and lawyers are seen dancing on stage.
What happens now?
Sources told ThePrint that the Supreme Court collegium will take a call on Singh’s elevation when it meets to discuss the names. It is up to the Supreme Court collegium whether to accept the government’s view or not.
It is also learnt that Singh’s isn’t the only name that hasn’t found favour with the government. The Union Ministry of Law and Justice has cleared the names of Rajesh Bhardwaj, Pankaj Jain and Hemant Bassi, but red-flagged the name of advocate Sant Pal Singh Sidhu, which was also recommended by the high court collegium last year. But the government says Sidhu doesn’t merit an appointment to the HC bench.
Meanwhile, as first reported by ThePrint, the Narendra Modi government is also learnt to have communicated to the SC collegium that it wants a re-think on the candidature of lawyer Kamal Sehgal, whose name was cleared by the SC collegium last year but not processed by the Centre. Sehgal is the brother of senior Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS officer Navneet Sehgal.
With inputs from Apoorva Mandhani