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'Law Ministry Should Respond To Collegium Recommendations Within Reasonable Time' : Supreme Court Seeks AG's Statement On 55 Pending Names

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
25 March 2021 7:28 AM GMT
Law Ministry Should Respond To Collegium Recommendations Within Reasonable Time : Supreme Court Seeks AGs Statement On 55 Pending Names
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The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a statement from the Attorney General for India KK Venugopal as to when the Central Government will decide on 55 collegium recommendations for judgeships in High Courts, which have been pending for a long time.A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant sought the AG's statement on April 8.Justice Kaul...

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The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a statement from the Attorney General for India KK Venugopal as to when the Central Government will decide on 55 collegium recommendations for judgeships in High Courts, which have been pending for a long time.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant sought the AG's statement on April 8.

Justice Kaul told the AG that he has prepared a chart with respect to the pendency of collegium recommendations at the level of the Ministry of Law and Justice on an all-India basis.

"There are 45 names which have been recommended by High Courts but not sent to (SC)collegium. There are 10 names cleared by the Collegium which are awaiting notification.When do you propose the 45 names for collegium and when will you notify the 10 names for appointment?", Justice Kaul asked.

Justice Kaul observed that "there should be be a reasonable time frame for Law ministry to respond, after recommendations have been made by the collegium".

"There are names we have cleared but the law ministry has not cleared them yet since more than 6 months", Justice Kaul added.

"My learned brother has prepared a chart, which will be forwarded to you. You make a statement about the time frame within which these 55 names(45 + 10) will be decided", CJI Bobde told the Attorney General.

The AG agreed to make the statement by the next date of hearing, April 8.

The bench was considering the case PLR Projects Ltd vs Mahanadi Coalfields Pvt Ltd, which is a transfer petition in 2019 seeking to transfer to Supreme Court a case from the Orissa High Court on account of the lawyers strike there. While considering the case, the Supreme Court had delved into the issue of pendency of collegium recommendations at the Ministry level.

In December 2019, a bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had passed an order in the case 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.

On an earlier hearing of the case in 2019, the bench had commented that nearly 40% sanctioned posts of High Court judges were lying vacant, and urged the Attorney General to take steps to expedite the appointment process.

"…The convention laid down is that an endeavour should be made that recommendations for vacancies are sent six months in advance. This is an aspect which the Chief Justices of the High Courts would look into. This period of six months arises from the expectation that the said period would be enough for processing the names from the recommendation stage till appointment.

Thus, sending names six months in advance would be meaningful only if the process till appointment is complete within six months which is a work the Government must attend to", the bench had said in an order passed in November 2019.






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