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Govt can’t stop Judges’ selection: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 25
The Supreme Court today made it clear to the government that it would not like holding back the appointment of judges in the Madras High Court despite recommendations made by the apex court collegium even as allegations were made by counsel for bar associations in Chennai that the appointments were being withheld as some political parties in power wanted their nominees appointed.

As Attorney-General (AG) Milon Banerjee said the appointment of seven judges had been cleared and regarding 11 others “more inquiry is needed”, a Bench of Mr Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice C.K. Thakker said when the collegium had cleared the names of all 18 judges for the Madras High Court, why should a few of them be held back.

“When there was nothing against them two days before, why there is need for a re-look,” the court observed even as lawyers’ associations from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand brought the issue of 55 vacancies in the high courts of the three states before the apex court.

Giving further time till December 9 to the government to clear the appointments, the Bench said, “Notification should come together for all judges, otherwise it would be fait accompli for those whose names are withheld.”

Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing for an association of advocates in Chennai, asked whether the appointments were being withheld due to “political consideration.” “Let us find out the reasons for not issuing the notification. There has to be some good reason,” he said.

The court asked the AG when the collegium had cleared the appointments about three months back why had the government been taking so much time.

Because of the delay in the appointment, the functioning of the Madras High Court had affected badly and even the bail applications of hundreds of accused lodged in jails were not being taken up for hearing. Former Attorney-General Soli J Sorabjee, appearing for another bar association, said, “After the collegium has cleared the appointments, I don’t think there is need for a second look.”

Advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha, appearing for bar associations from UP and Bihar, stated that 25 vacancies were laying in the Allahabad High Court and, 21 and nine respectively in the Patna and Jharkhand high courts.

Mr Venugopal expressed serious concern over the attempt of “political” influence in the appointment of judges, saying that all 131 vacancies laying in different high courts of the country should be filled as early as possible, taking into account the burden with 34 lakh cases with them.

While adjourning the hearing to December 9, the court said it hoped that the government would take appropriate steps in the intervening period.

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