Supreme Court again raises issue of Center delaying appointments of judges, says it will ‘closely monitor’

After a brief hiatus, the Supreme Court on Tuesday (September 16) once again expressed concern over the central government’s non-action on several collegium recommendations for appointments and transfers of high court judges, including a ” It also includes the appointment of the Chief Justice of the sensitive High Court. (referring to Manipur High Court).

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul expressed his concern with Attorney General for India R Venkataramani That the seventy collegium recommendations made by the Supreme Court Collegium from 11 November 2022 are pending with the Central Government. Seven of these names have been reiterated by the collegium. Justice Kaul revealed that 80 files were pending till four days ago and after that ten files were cleared by the government. Thus the current number is 70.

“The number of names repeated is 7. 9 names proposed for the first time, 1 promotion of Chief Justice, 26 transfers… which means 70 names proposed from November 11, 2022”. Justice Kaul verbally asked the AG to seek instructions from the government regarding the High Court’s recommendations at least by the end of April this year. Agreeing to do so, AG Venkataramani asked for a week’s time.

“In some ways, we’ve tried to push these things forward. Now we want to monitor it closely.” Justice Cole adjourned the matter till October 9.

Includes bench. Justice SK Kol(who are also other judges in the SC Collegium.) and Sidhanshu Dhulia. He was hearing a petition filed by the Advocates Association of Bengaluru against the Union Ministry of Law and Justice to follow the timeline set by the court in its 2021 judgment to clear the collegium’s proposals. For non-compliance, contempt of court action was requested. A writ petition filed by NGO Common Cause, which raised the issue of delay in judicial appointments, was also listed along with the contempt petition.

Advocate Prashant BhushanAppearing for Common Cause, said that 16 names reiterated by the collegium are pending before the Centre. He said that many lawyers have withdrawn their consent for judgeship in view of the delay in appointments.

Concurring with Bhushan, Justice Kaul said:“Some of them lose interest and drop out. One or two such big candidates. With the AG’s assurance, I will take up the matter every 10 days. I thought of saying a lot, But since the attorneys are asking for 7 days time, I am holding myself back”.

Bhushan also expressed concern over the central government’s decision to single out the names recommended by the collegium in one batch.. “There are 9 such cases” Justice Cole said.

“According to my list, there are 14. But in any case, your Lordships can confirm.”, said Bhushan. Justice Kaul said the bench would take up the matter every ten days to closely monitor the progress.

Senior advocate Arvind P Datar, appearing for the petitioner, said there should be “hard pressure” to ensure that the Center follows the timelines. Supporting Datar’s plea, Bhushan said, “I am sure the attorney will try, but it may be beyond his control…”. The submission drew protest from the AG, who said the comment was unnecessary.

Justice Cole then said, “His predecessor Mr. Venugopal, somewhere he celebrated, somewhere…”.

“That’s why I am saying, the court has to be pushed hard”, Bhushan asserted.

When the Supreme Court last November issued a notice to the Center in a contempt of court petition, it triggered a clash between the judiciary and the executive over the issue of judicial appointments. After the case was raised, the then Union Law Minister Kiran Rijiju openly questioned the legitimacy of the collegium system using several public platforms. The law minister’s comments did not go down well with the court, which expressed dismay and urged top law officers to advise the Center to follow the law laid down by the court on judicial appointments. .

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