The Supreme Court has observed that the High Courts should continuously recommend names for judicial appointments in anticipation of vacancies, regardless of the pendency of the earlier recommendations.
A bench comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said that there should be a "continuing process" of recommending names without waiting for the results of earlier recommendations.
It was stated in the order as follows :
"We may also note that there appears to be some hesitation in some courts to recommend the names without the earlier list being cleared. We understand that there is no such impediment and it should be a continuing process of recommending the names without waiting for the result of the earlier recommendations till all recommendations are made. Otherwise, the time period to process names is such that by the time appointments takes place, another set of vacancies arise which brings the problem of vacancies to square one".
The bench also emphasized that the "Chief Justices of High Courts must make endeavours to recommend the names against the vacancies as early as possible even if they are not made at one go".
Accepting the suggestion made by Attorney General K K Venugopal, the bench called for reports from the Registrar Generals of High Courts regarding the present vacancy position , date of occurrence of vacancies, the number of vacancies likely to arise in the next six months, and the time period within which recommendations can be expected to be made.
The matter will be next considered on March 23.
This direction was passed by the bench noting that no recommendations have been made to 199 posts of judges out of about 396 vacancies.
The Attorney General told the bench that a part of delay in judicial appointments took place at the level of judiciary.
"The number of days taken by the government after receiving IB (Intelligence Bureau) inputs is 127 days. The number of days taken by the Collegium is 119 days," he said.
The AG emphasized on the inordinate delay in making recommendation to fill vacancies by the High Courts.
The bench observed that "situation in some of the High Court is more alarming".
The bench took note of the issue of judicial vacancies in November 2019 while hearing a transfer petition, originating from Odisha, where lawyers were observing strike in several districts demanding circuit benches of high court in other parts of the state.
On December 10, 2019, the bench had ordered that in cases where the recommendations of the High Court collegium meets with the approval of the Supreme Court collegium and the Government, the appointments must take place within at least six months. This was after the bench took note of the alarming rise in judicial vacancies in High Courts, which was found to be nearly 40%.
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