In a welcome move, the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar has recommended names of 51 Judges for appointments to 10 High Courts across the country, reports TOI
14 Judges have reportedly been recommended for being appointed to the Bombay High Court, while 9 such appointments have been proposed for the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. 6 names each have been cleared for the High Courts of Patna, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and 4 each for the High Courts of Delhi and Chhattisgarh. Further, 3 names have been recommended for appointment to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, while High Courts of Jharkhand and Gauhati are likely to get 2 Judges each.
The story so far
It was on December 16, 2015 that the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had directed the Government to draft a new Memorandum of Procedure [MoP] for appointment of High Court and Supreme Court Judges. The MoP has since been getting tossed back and forth between the Centre and the collegium, with both the sides being adamant on their stands on several issues.
The collegium had, in its final meeting on March 10, 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”.
Reports had also point towards rejection of the suggestion to set up a permanent secretariat for “vetting and screening” appointments to the higher judiciary. The Judiciary has for a long time been of the view that the existing mechanism – under which the personal staff of the five judges constituting the collegium deals with the issue – is good enough.
Another suggestion that had been discarded is that of having a three-member committee of non-collegium members to investigate complaints against Judges of the High Courts. The Collegium also desires to reiterate a recommendation, when the same is rejected by the Centre, in which case the Centre would have to approve it. This is subject to a unanimous affirmation in writing, by all the members of the collegium.
However, the collegium has reportedly agreed to have a minimum and maximum age limit for Advocates being considered for appointment as High Court Judges. It has agreed to set a minimum age limit of 45 years and maximum age limit of 55 years for appointment of Advocates as High Court Judges. For elevation of District Court and Sessions Judges to the High Courts, the collegium has suggested an upper age limit of 58 and a half years. Further, for appointments, the age of the Judge at the time of vacancy would be considered.