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Delay in HC judge appointments: SC rejects govt stand

January 14, 2020 06:17 AM


New Delhi:

The Centre failed in its attempt to dissuade the Supreme Court from judicially examining the delay on the government’s part to appoint HC judges long after the collegium headed by the CJI recommends names for such appointments.

On the Centre’s note submitted through AG K K Venugopal on Friday, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph said, “In substance, what is stated is that appointment of judges in high courts is an administrative matter between the executive and the judiciary and falls within the domain of the Supreme Court collegium and, thus, it should not be examined on the judicial side.”

The judges expressed pain over government’s failure to appreciate that the purpose of the bench was to ensure that appointments aren’t held up by more than six months.

HCs working at only 50% of their strength, says SC bench

Justices Kaul and Joseph said, “We are both pained and in disagreement with the stand sought to be taken (by the Union government) as it does not appreciate the endeavour in the present proceedings which is limited in its very character. We are not examining as to who is to be appointed as HC judge and on what consideration. We are reemphasising our endeavour, in the first instance, is only to see that where all stakeholders are on the same page, the appointments should go through in a total period of six months.

“We reiterate that we are putting this burden on the attorney general to sort out this problem in the larger interest of the judicial process in view of the concern we had expressed on the last date and we would expect the AG to revert on this aspect.”

Terming the vacancy position in the HCs as huge, and noting that this is impeding speedy dispensation of justice, the bench said, “We cannot countenance a situation where the working of HCs is brought to almost a grinding halt by large inadequacy in the number of HC judges as a number of HCs are working at only 50% strength. The appointments (of HC judges) in the last year being the same as retirement, it has left 37% vacancy on an all-India basis.”

The bench had suo motu taken up the task of expediting appointments to HCs and on December 6 had asked the Centre to look into the inordinate delay in considering appointment of 100-odd names for HCs recommended by the collegium.

As reported in TOI on December 7, the bench had said, “The government is bound by Supreme Court judgments on appointment of judges, but is not following them”

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