Judges appointment: Advocate Sathyan is critical of PM Modi, so what?
The Supreme Court collegium has reiterated advocate R. John Sathyan’s candidature as Madras High Court judge, rejecting the Centre’s stand that he cannot be elevated since he had shared on social media articles critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the political establishment.
According to the collegium’s resolution, the Centre had cited an IB report that referred to two posts by Sathyan, one of which shared an article that was critical of Modi.
The IB report cited by the Centre had said: “As per open sources, two posts made by him, i.e. sharing of an article published in The Quint (news portal), which was critical of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi; and another post regarding committing of suicide by medical aspirant Anitha, who ended her life in 2017 since she was unable to clear NEET, portraying it as a killing by ‘political betrayal’ and a tag stating ‘shame of you India’ came to notice.”
The collegium had last February 16 recommended Sathyan’s elevation. A collegium that included Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph took the decision to reiterate his candidature on January 17 but the resolution was made public only on Thursday.
Excerpts from the resolution: “All the consultee judges had a favourable opinion about suitability of Shri Sathyan. The Intelligence Bureau has reported that he enjoys a good personal and professional image and that nothing adverse has come to notice against his integrity. Shri Sathyan belongs to the Christian community.
“The IB report notes that he does not have any overt political leanings. In this backdrop, the adverse comments of the IB... in respect of posts made by him... will not impinge on the suitability, character or integrity of Shri Sathyan.
“The collegium further recommends that he be given precedence in the matter of appointment as judge over certain names separately recommended today by this collegium for appointment as judges of Madras High Court.”
While the Centre is bound by rule to approve any reiteration by the collegium, it has in recent years sat on many recommendations despite multiple reiterations.