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Appointment of judges in J&K high court hits governor hurdle

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Governor N.N. Vohra is believed to have communicated his displeasure with three of the recommendations to the government — not once, but twice.

New Delhi: A fresh round of judicial appointments in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has hit a roadblock after governor N.N. Vohra raised objections to three recommendations, apparently on security grounds.

Sources told ThePrint that the collegium of the high court is considering recommending five candidates to be appointed as HC judges. However, Vohra is believed to have communicated his displeasure with three of the recommendations to the government not once, but twice.

Sources familiar with the developments said that the chief minister is yet to take a call on the recommendations made.

Jammu and Kashmir high court has a sanctioned strength of 17 judges and is currently short of six judges. The chief justice of the high court, Badar Durrez Ahmed, is also due to retire in March unless he is elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court.

The five recommended names include two practising advocates from Kashmir, two from Jammu and a district judge in the state.

The procedure of appointment

The collegium that recommends names for appointment of judges consists of five senior-most judges of the court. The J&K High Court collegium made the recommendations to the state government in consultation with the Supreme Court collegium.

The governor of the state then has to accept the recommendations within six weeks and forward it to the apex court collegium and the Union law ministry. While the governor can raise objections and seek clarifications, he is, however, bound by the decision of the chief minister and her council of ministers.

The SC collegium will take a final call on the recommendations after considering reports of the state government and the Intelligence Bureau. However, it can virtually overrule any objections made by the state government.

The last round of appointments to the Jammu and Kashmir high court was made in April last year, wherein the SC collegium approved only three out of nine recommendations made by the high court collegium.

The apex court collegium has overruled adverse observations of IB reports in many instances saying that they are unsubstantiated claims. However, Vohra could have raised objections given the state’s delicate security situation, the sources said.

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