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CJI Raises Delay In Judges Appointments Again; Law Minister Disagrees

In Constitution Day comments, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur today once again expressed his concern over increasing vacancies at various courts, including the vacancy of 500 judges in HCs and urged the Centre to intervene at the earliest in the interest of the judiciary.

“What do I tell now on the issue. I have been telling again and again and repeated it various times. 500 Judges posts are vacant in the High Courts. They are not being filled. Presently, there are several vacant court rooms in India, but no judges available. A large number of proposals are still pending and hope the government will intervene to end this crisis,” CJI Thakur said.

“Several tribunals are without judges and I am pained to send my retired colleagues there. Tribunals are not equipped and no retired SC judge wants to head tribunal,” he said.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad immediately countered the remark and said : “we respectfully disagree with him. This year we made 120 appointments. The second highest. There was 121 in 2013. Since 1990 there had been only 80 appointments. Remember there are 5000 vacancies in lower judiciary. This is an arena where the government has no role. What about that?”

Rejecting CJI’s repeated accusations in the Supreme Court that the government was deliberately delaying appointment of judges to the High Courts, the Centre had already hit back with statistics, disclosing that it had appointed 120 HC judges this year, against an annual average of 80 appointments since 1990.

Yesterday, Standing by its decision to refer back for reconsideration to supreme court the names of 43 candidates for appointment as judges in high courts, the Centre has said in the parliament that the decision was based on “adverse intelligence reports and serious nature of complaints” against them.

Minister of state for law PP Chaudhary told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply yesterday: “The major reasons for referring back 43 recomendees to the Supreme Court collegium on the appointment of judges are views of consultee judges, views of constitutional authorities, adverse intelligence bureau inputs, serious nature of complaints received against recommendees. Out of the 43 names returned to it by the government for reconsideration, the Supreme Court collegium has reiterated its recommendation for 37, deferred three proposals while three other names are still with it”.

On November 18, fresh confrontation broke out between the Supreme Court collegium and the Centre with Chief Justice T S Thakur firmly telling Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi today that the collegium has reiterated the names of all 43 judges for the High Courts whose candidature were sent back for reconsideration to the collegium by the Centre two weeks ago.

SC HEARING BACKGROUND

The CJI had slammed the Centre for attempting of trying to bring the judiciary to a grinding halt by delaying appointment of judges, the Centre had on November 11 told the CJI-led bench that 34 judges have been appointed to the High Courts.

Appearing for Centre Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said out of 77 names recommended by collegium, 43 names have been sent back for reconsideration.

After the AG submitted a list regarding the appointments, CJI Thakur had perused it and said the collegium will meet on November 15 and a detailed order will be passed later in open court.

It is to be noted that Rohatgi had in October 28 sought one more chance to “come up with something positive” on judges appointments defusing the volatile situation and preventing the summoning of the top officials of the PMO and justice ministry.

“Please do not issue notice now. Kindly post it after vacations by then some positive steps would have been taken”, Rohatgi had assured after which the CJI softened down a bit earlier.

“In Allahabad, out of a sanctioned strength of 165 there are only 77 judges. In Karnataka High Court, an entire floor of courts are locked because there are no judges. Once we had a situation where we had judges but no court rooms. But now there are courtrooms but no judges. You may now as well close court rooms down and lock justice out. You can have the institution called the judiciary locked”, an angry CJI had said.

 The scathing remarks began when Rohatgi began reading out the status report on judicial appointments and started off by saying that it had cleared two out of eight recommendations.

Image from here and here.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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