Justice Raghuvendra Singh Rathore on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking the recall of its March 27 order appointing Justice Jawad Rahim as the acting Chairperson of the NGT, asserting that he was the rightful claimant to the position being the senior-most member.
A vacation bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar said the plea will be heard in the second week of July as advocate Anando Mukherjee mentioned that he was seeking the recall of the order because the court was not told about the facts in correct perspective.
Justice Rathore has also sought the setting aside of the April 5 notification issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change appointing Justice Rahim as NGT acting Chairperson in pursuance to the top court order.
The apex court, Justice Rathore said, has been “misinformed” that two of the seniormost judicial members of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) are Justice Rahim and himself.
However, as borne out of official records, two of the seniormost judicial members of the NGT are Justice Rathore and Justice Sonam Phintso Wangdi, and Justice Rahim is only third in rank in terms of seniority among judicial members, the plea said.
It will be “against established conventions and practices, either by way of interim arrangement or final, if the judicial members who are senior in rank are superseded by a junior judge”, the plea added.
Justice Rathore contended that though he and Justice Rahim were appointed to the NGT on January 12, 2018, this order came into effect from the actual date of joining.
The petitioner contended that he joined as judicial member of the NGT on January 16, followed by Justice Wangdi (on January 22) and Justice Rahim (February 8).
The March 27 order, Justice Rathore contended, has put a stamp of its approval to the flawed seniority list prepared by the earlier NGT Chairman in which Justice Rahim was put at the top, Justice Rathore at number two with Justice Wangdi at number three of the seniority list.
Justice Rathore in his application said he was still awaiting repose to his representation against the seniority list prepared by the former NGT Chairman.
After being told that both Justice Rahim and Justice Rathore were appointed on the same day, the top court looked at their seniority in the high court before appointing Justice Rahim as the acting Chairperson.
Rathore has contended that Justice Rahim was actually working as Member, Karnataka State Law Commission, when the appointment order was issued and clearly could not have held the position as a Member of the NGT from January 12, 2018.