Fresh confrontation is brewing 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.
“We (collegium) met last recently and we are reiterating all the names. The appointment may be made”, Chief Justice Thakur told Rohatgi.
NEXT DATE AFTER CJI THAKUR’S RETIREMENT?
Interestingly the PIL filed by 1971 war veteran Lieutenant Colonel Anil Kabotra and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyaya in which these issues cropped up has now been adjourned for “some time in January”. By then the Chief Justice T S Thakur may have retired. His retirement date is January 3, 2017. The court reopens after Christmas and New Year vacation on January 2. It is not sure if the matter will come up on 2nd or 3rd.
Centre had refused to appoint 43 of 77 names recommended by Collegium for appointment as HC Judges.
Two weeks after slammed 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 somepositive 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 told Rohatgi who represented the centre while hearing a PIL filed by 1971 war veteran Lieutenant Colonel Anil Kabotra and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyaya on the issue.
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.
The CJI then had said “what about the remaining six..it has been four months..over all we had made 88 recommendations..you are sitting on them..If there are inconsistencies with them bring it back. If there are problems with the candidates tell us..do not bring the judiciary to a grinding halt”.
Meanwhile, senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani sought to intervene in the issue and it has been allowed by the Chief Justice who said his application shall be served to AG Rohatgi. It pertained to the issue of stalling the transfer of Justice M R Shah of the Gujarat High Court. Jethmalani told the bench that he represented the Gujarat Bar.
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.