The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) has expressed deep concern at the Supreme Court (SC) Collegium’s approval of the proposal of elevating advocate Gaurang Kanth to a Judge of the Delhi High Court (HC).
In a press release issued on Saturday, CJAR said that there are “serious allegations of breach of trust and abuse of office as an advocate” against Kanth. The CJAR had also sent a detailed representation mentioning the allegations and documentary evidence to the SC Collegium, the HC Collegium and the ministry of law and justice on November 18, 2021.
According to CJAR, which comprises eminent lawyers Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy and several others, the representation detailed how Kanth had “forged a sale deed while being the lawyer and executor of the will of his client”.
A civil case against Kanth for declaring the said sale deed null and void on the grounds of forgery is in the “final stages of recording evidence with all evidence on record allegedly showing no sale whatsoever in favour of Kanth”, CJAR said.
The press release, citing the representation, mentioned that a “criminal case against Kanth for further investigation into the FIR 255 of 2016 for cheating and forgery” of the sale deed is pending in the Delhi HC.
Some of the evidence was examined by CJAR and annexed with the representation. On the basis of the serious charges in the representation, CJAR had urged the Collegium to reject the nomination of Kanth as a Judge of the Delhi HC.
CJAR reiterated that Kanth is not fit for appointment to the HC considering his “involvement in such gross professional misconduct, breach of trust and abuse of his position as a lawyer in his fiduciary capacity”.
Requesting the President to send back the proposal for reconsideration, CJAR said that if Kanth is appointed as a Judge in the very court in which cases are pending against him, he could “influence the proceedings in the case”.
Calling for more transparency in the functioning of the Collegium and added accountability, CJAR said that while the collegium’s resolutions are uploaded on the website, the names of proposed appointees should be displayed on the SC website to allow the public to provide relevant information on the proposed appointees. Further, the reasons for selection must also be disclosed as was being done in earlier collegium resolutions, which were published on the website, CJAR added. “This will ensure the appointment of only those candidates that are meritorious and of impeccable integrity while also cutting at the roots of nepotistic and arbitrary judicial appointments.”