The Government has reportedly initiated the process for appointing 44 High Court Judges, after initially having returned the names to the Supreme Court collegium for reconsideration on two occasions.
Out of the 44 recommendations, 29 candidates are from the Allahabad High Court, 2 are from Karnataka High Court, 7 are from Calcutta High Court and 6 are from Madras High Court.
The Supreme Court had been informed in November last year that the Government had sent back the names for reconsideration. A Bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Thakur had reiterated the names, after lashing out at the Government for trying to create “a logjam”.
“Don’t force us to ask where the files are. Don’t force us to judicially intervene. Don’t try to bring this institution to a grinding halt. That’s not the right thing to do… Send the file back to us if you have a problem with a name suggested by us. We have no problem re-looking into it… But this kind of logjam… whole situation is getting very difficult… Do you know that most High Courts are working with only 40 per cent of their sanctioned strength?? People are languishing in jails for 13 years for a hearing,” a three-Judge Bench was then quoted as saying.
The recommendations were then reiterated for the second time in April this year, by the SC collegium now headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar. The Government, however, now seems to have caved in, at a time when Supreme Court had laid ground for another round of confrontations over the Memorandum of Procedure, having rejected the Centre’s recommendation of permitting the latter to reject any name for appointment as a Judge of a High Court for reasons of “national security”.
The five-Judge collegium led by CJI Khehar, in its final meeting on March 10, had unanimously rejected the recommendation, contrary to earlier reports which had claimed that a consensus had been reached on Centre’s stance that “national security” ought to be a part of the criteria to determine eligibility for appointment as Judges. The views had been conveyed to the Centre through a letter sent on March 13.