SC asks Centre to fix timeline for judicial appointments
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court urged the Centre to set a fixed timeline for clearing appointments of judges to the higher judiciary after receiving the recommendations of the collegium.
The apex court bench including justices Sanjay K Kaul and Surya Kant was headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde.
All you need to know about the matter:
- The request came even as a new memorandum of procedure (MoP) on judicial appointments is pending for almost four years.
- Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde stated that as on December, there were 189 pending proposals regarding appointments pending with the government. Some proposals were pending for over 6 months.
- Court requested the A-G to study the chart.
- CJI said that all endeavours should be made to ensure appointments come through in a time-bound manner.
- In the high court, 411 posts are vacant out of the total strength of 1,079 judges. As of January 1, more than a third of the total positions are vacant.
- The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment were struck down by the Supreme Court in the year 2015. It sought to give the executive a say in the appointment of judges.
- Judicial appointments will be carried on by the recommendations of the collegium. The collegium will consist of CJI and four other most senior Supreme Court judges.
- To guide all the future appointments of judges, the court said that a new MoP should be put in place in consultation with the government.
- In March 2017, the SC collegium sent a draft MoP to the Union law ministry. The government returned it and suggested certain improvements.
- In March 2020, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Lok Sabha that the government’s suggestions have remained pending with the top court.
- The new MoP on eligibility criteria and a timeline for judicial appointments still awaits finalisation.
- The collegium had not heard from the government for months together after making some recommendations. The Supreme Court bench called it a “matter of great concern”.
- According to the bench, a proposal would get stuck without knowing the reason whether the government had any objection to a certain name or there were other issues.
- Since May and June last year, around a dozen names for appointments to high courts of Allahabad and Bombay have been pending.
- In processing some appointments, the government took more than a year to respond.
- Bench told that even a proposal to appoint some government lawyers as judges had not been cleared expeditiously.
- The government has been asked to respond regarding the matter in two weeks.