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New appointments of Supreme Court judges to be notified soon, A-G tells top court

Taking exception to the Centre sitting over the Collegium's recommendations for appointment and transfer of judges, the Bench warns it of judicial and administrative action

New appointments of Supreme Court judges to be notified soon, A-G tells top court

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Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash 

New Delhi, February 3

Signalling a thaw in the ongoing stand-off over appointment of judges, the Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that the new appointments of judges to the top court would be notified soon.

The assurance was given by Attorney General R Venkataramani to a Bench led by Justice SK Kaul during hearing of a PIL filed by Advocates’ Association, Bengaluru, alleging “wilful disobedience” of the timeframe laid down by the top court on

April 20, 2021 to facilitate timely appointment of judges.

Regarding the Collegium's recommendations for appointments in various high courts, Venkataramani sought time.

Taking exception to the Centre sitting over the Collegium's recommendations for appointment and transfer of judges, the Bench warned it of judicial and administrative action that would not be palatable if the government continued to sit over the recommendations.

As Venkataramani said, "It's happening," the Bench said, "It has been happening! But when will this happen? Things have not been happening for years together."

Justice Kaul said, "Sometimes you do it overnight, sometimes it takes days. There is no uniformity...This is really troubling us."

The Bench said it would give 10 days to the Centre to notify the appointments. It posted the matter for hearing after a week.

As the Bench pointed out that one of the judges recommended to be appointed as the Chief Justice of a high court was due to retire in 19 days, the Attorney General said he was aware of it.

The Supreme Court Collegium led by CJI DY Chandrachud had on December 13 recommended the elevation of Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal, Patna High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Manipur High Court Chief Justice PV Sanjay Kumar, Patna High Court Judge Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Allahabad High Court Judge Manoj Misra as judges of the Supreme Court.

Amid the ongoing tussle with the government over judicial appointments, the Collegium had on January 31 further recommended elevation of Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Aravind Kumar as judges of the top court.

In order to prevent the government from disturbing the order of seniority decided by it, the Collegium had said, “The names recommended earlier by the Collegium by its resolution dated December 13, 2022 shall have precedence over the two names recommended at present for appointment to the Supreme Court. Therefore, the appointments of five judges recommended on December 13, 2022 should be notified separately and earlier in point of time before the two judges recommended by this resolution.”

The Supreme Court – which has a sanctioned strength of 34 judges -- is currently functioning with 27 judges, and has “seven clear vacancies”. There were 69,768 cases pending in the top court as on January 1, 2023.

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