New Delhi, September 26
After a lull of seven months, the government and judiciary appear to be headed for another round of confrontation over judicial appointment with the Supreme Court on Tuesday pointing the finger at the Centre for sitting on 70 recommendations for appointment and transfer of high court judges.
Won’t be quiet at next hearing
Today, I am quiet because AG has sought a very short time… next time I will not be quiet. Use your good offices to see to it these issues are resolved.
— Justice Kaul to AG
“There were 80 recommendations pending until last week when 10 names were cleared. Now, the figure is 70 — of which 26 recommendations are of transfer of judges; seven are reiterations; nine are pending without being returned to the Collegium; and one case is of appointment of the Chief Justice to a sensitive high court (Manipur),” a Bench led by Justice SK Kaul said, adding, “All these recommendations are pending since November last year.”
70 pending since Nov
Of 80 recommendations sent to Centre, 10 names cleared last week; of 70, 26 are of transfer, 7 of reiterations, 9 not returned to Collegium, and 1 is of appointment of CJ to a sensitive high court (Manipur), SC Bench has observed.
The SC and government have been at loggerheads for quite some time over the Collegium system of appointment of judges that has been in place since 1993. Then Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had in December last year termed it “alien” to the Constitution.
Justice Kaul — the senior-most judge after CJI DY Chandrachud — is part of the SC Collegium that controls appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. While hearing a petition filed by the Advocates’ Association, Bengaluru, alleging “wilful disobedience” of the time frame laid down to facilitate timely appointment of judges in its April 20, 2021 order, the Bench on Tuesday told Attorney General R Venkataramani to impress upon the Centre to process the names recommended for appointment and transfer of high court judges.
As Venkataramani said he would get back to the top court with instructions from the government, the Bench — which also included Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia — posted the matter for further hearing on October 9.
Justice Kaul, who is to demit office on December 25, said the matter would be taken up every 10-12 days so that substantial work was done before his retirement. On behalf of the petitioner, senior counsel Arvind P Dattar said a “hard push” was needed to ensure that the Centre adhered to the timeline.
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