SC pulls up Centre for delay in judicial appointments

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India, File Photo

New Delhi, (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Central government why it was taking a long time in clearing the collegium recommendations for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta also asked Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal why appointments to the high court have not been made despite recommendations of the top court collegium.

The poser from the top court bench came in the course of the hearing of a plea pointing out that the Manipur High Court had just one judge which was adversely affecting its functioning.

The AG said it was the collegium which was not making recommendations while the Central government was being blamed.

Stressing that the collegium should look into the “far future” and make recommendations, Attorney General Venugopal said several high courts have multiple vacancies but the collegium recommends only one or two names.

Telling the court that the larger issue has to be looked into, he said the National Judicial Appointment Commission may have to be considered again.

Apparently unimpressed, the bench said that it was not concerned with all that.

“Tell us why is there a delay in processing recommendations by the collegium and making appointments,” the court said, observing that the situation in the high courts in Northeast is critical — Meghalaya and Tripura High Courts have only two judges while Manipur only one.

The top court recently took a dim view of lawyers in the Calcutta High Court going on strike protesting the failure to fill up vacancies and the appointment of a Chief Justice — which has been done since then.

In the course of hearing of a plea on April 19, a bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said: “A strike is not an answer… strikes can’t be linked to that. Vacancies have to be filled up.”

However, the court did not agree with the AG’s suggestion that the question of strike has to be examined along with that of the vacancies.

Telling the AG “if we combine the two, it would provide an alibi for strike”, Justice Goel had said there are vacancies in the high courts as there were not enough suitable candidates and that unsuitable candidates can’t be recommended for appointment.


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