Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 10
Amid intermittent face-offs between the central government and the judiciary over certain choices for the Bench, the Supreme Court has said that candidates cleared by collegium and Centre have to be appointed in six months.
“There may be an aspect as to whether the high court collegium and the Supreme Court collegium with inputs from consultee Judges are on the same page or not—an aspect which can be looked into by the judiciary. There may be cases where Government sent back the names with the recommendation, an aspect emphasised before us.”
“However, in cases where the recommendations of the high court collegium meet with the approval of the Supreme Court collegium and the Government, at least their appointments must take place within six months. This is not to say that in other cases the process should not be completed within six months,” a Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph said.
The direction assumes significance in view of the fact that at times the Centre was using “pocket veto”, i.e. delaying issuance of warrant of appointment despite names having been cleared by all concerned.
This has been happening intermittently since 1993 when the Supreme Court arrogated to itself real power to appointment judges of the top court and high courts through a judicial verdict that created collegium system that left very little role for the executive in the process.
But after the order passed by the top court last week, there still remains scope for the Centre to sit over a particular appointment if it has certain reservation over it as the order only talks about the stage after names have been cleared by both the collegium and the central government.
The all-India figures presented in the court showed that against sanctioned strength of judges in the high courts of 1,079, the working strength is only 669, with 410 posts remaining vacant. It noted that 213 recommendations were in process with the central government/Supreme Court collegium while recommendations were yet to be received from the high court collegiums for 197 vacancies.
In 2019, only 65 judges to the high courts were appointed as on December 2, 2019, as against 115 in 2017 and 108 in 2018, the Bench said.
“There is no doubt that the collegium of the High Court are vested with the important responsibility to make recommendations six months in advance and needless to say that the responsibility must be fulfilled qua the pending 197 recommendations to be made,” it said.
To analyse the data and find a solution for the pendency of these 213 names, it directed that details be placed before it in tabular forms under different heads, i.e. date when the recommendation was made by high court collegium; date when it was forwarded to the collegium after consultation with the State Government by Law Ministry; time period between these two dates; date when collegium cleared the names; time period; date when the names were forwarded to PMO; time period taken for it: date when the warrants of appointment were issued and time taken for it. It would further take it on January 10, 2020.
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