Stating that the time frame for filling up vacancies of Judges cannot be indicated, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice has informed in the Rajyasabha that a total of 453 posts of judges are lying vacant across all the high courts in the country.
Responding to queries raised by Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas belonging to CPI(M), Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said :
"Filling up of vacancies in the High Courts is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process between the Executive and the Judiciary. It requires consultation and approval from various Constitutional Authorities both at the State and Centre level. Hence, the time needed for filling up of vacancies of the Judges in the higher Judiciary cannot be indicated. While every effort is made to fill up the existing vacancies expeditiously, vacancies of Judges in High Courts do keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of Judges and also due to increase in the strength of Judges".
"While every effort is made to fill up the existing vacancies expeditiously, vacancies do keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of Judges and increase in Judge Strength," the response of the Central Government in Rajyasabha states.
The Law Minister has also stated that filling up of vacancies is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process between the Executive and the Judiciary and that it requires consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities both at the State and Centre level and hence, the time frame for filling up vacancies of Judges cannot be indicated.
Further, a Statement showing details of vacancies of Chief Justice in the 4 High Courts as of 15.07.2021 has also been given in its response.
The response states that on June 26, the post of Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court fell vacant and on April 29, the post of Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court fell vacant.
Further, while the post of Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh HC fell vacant on June 1, the Himachal Pradesh High Court also doesn't have a Chief Justice since July 1.
The Supreme Court has expressed exasperation at the delay in filling up of the mounting vacancies of High Court judges and has stressed on the need to complete the appointment process in a reasonable time-line.
In April 2021, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had passed an order indicating the time-line for each stage of the appointment process. The Attorney General for India KK Venugopal assured the Court on April 15 this year that collegium recommendations pending with the Union Government for over 6 months will be decided within 3 months.
In December 2019, a bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had passed an order stating that the persons recommended by the High Court collegium, which are approved by the Supreme Court Collegium and the Government, should be appointed within 6 months.
High Court wise Judges' vacancy details are given below: