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Recommended twice for elevation, but this lawyer yet to be appointed as judge to Calcutta HC

Advocate Sakya Sen's name was recommended for elevation as a judge to the Calcutta HC twice by both the SC and high court collegium.

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New Delhi: On 1 September, the Supreme Court Collegium reiterated the names of four advocates for elevation as judges to the Calcutta High Court but one advocate, Sakya Sen, was left out from this list.

Son of Shyamal Sen, former chief justice of Allahabad High Court, Sen has been recommended by the court for elevation twice in the past. The first time was in 2016 when he was just 43.

However, sources told ThePrint, his name was among the 16 advocates on whom the collegium deferred its decision.

The high-powered appointment panel, led by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, had reiterated the elevation of three judicial officers as judges of Allahabad HC on 24 August, overruling the central government’s objections to them. Once the collegium reiterates its decision, it is supposed to be binding on the government.

Later, on 1 September, the collegium, also comprising Justices U.U. Lalit and A.M. Khanwilkar, reiterated the names of nine lawyers for elevation to different HCs.

Of the nine, four belonged to Calcutta and included Amitesh Banerjee, son of former Supreme Court judge Justice U.C. Banerjee.

Justice Banerjee had headed the probe panel set up by the UPA government in 2004 to rule out any foul play in the 2002 Sabarmati Express fire in Godhra. The panel’s report had noted that the fire was accidental.

The other three advocates were Jaytosh Majumdar, Raja Basu Choudhary and Lipita Banerjee.

Also read: Justice Akil Kureshi, ignored as SC judge, likely to head to Rajasthan HC as chief justice

Both Calcutta HC and SC collegium cleared Sen’s name twice

Sen’s name along with five others was sent to the SC Collegium for the first time in November 2016. The collegium then headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra took up the names for consideration more than a year later in December 2017.

After the Intelligence Bureau confirmed that all candidates had a “good personal and professional image” and nothing adverse was found against them, the collegium proposed the names of five of the advocates, including Sen, for elevation.

At the time, Sen was 43, which was two years below the minimum age requirement of 45 for elevation as judge. However, the Calcutta HC Collegium that recommended his name to the SC asked the panel to relax the age criteria for Sen, considering his “ability” and “shortage of judges” in the HC.

But his file was sent back by the central government since he was not 45 yet.

More than a year later, on 8 August 2018, the SC Collegium reconsidered Sen’s name but sent it back to the HC Collegium.

On 17 December 2018, the HC Collegium reiterated its decision on Sen and his name was taken up once again by the SC in July 2019, under then CJI Ranjan Gogoi who had also been part of the earlier collegium that cleared Sen for elevation.

From a list of nine names sent by the Calcutta HC, the top court panel cleared five, including Sen. This time the recommendations were made following an interaction between the collegium members and the candidates.

Based on the interaction, the SC found Sen suitable for appointment as judge in the Calcutta HC.

Also read: Govt ‘cherry picking’ appointments of tribunal members, our selection ‘waste of time’, SC says


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