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'We Are Pained by And In Disagreement With The Stand Taken By AG': SC On Delay In Appointment Of HC Judges

Radhika Roy
13 Jan 2020 12:43 PM GMT
We Are Pained by And In Disagreement With The Stand Taken By AG: SC On Delay In Appointment Of HC Judges
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"All stake holders "should stop looking at shadows, the process is collaborative and the endeavour should be to improve the situation by reducing the time periods."

A Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph on Friday took up the issue of appointment of Judges in various High CourtsDuring the last hearing the Bench had directed the Attorney General for India KK Venugopal to submit the details of 213 collegium recommendations pending in various stages.On Friday, AG submitted that the issue of appointment of Judges in the High Courts...

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A Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph on Friday took up the issue of appointment of Judges in various High Courts

During the last hearing the Bench had directed the Attorney General for India KK Venugopal to submit the details of 213 collegium recommendations pending in various stages.

On Friday, AG submitted that the issue of appointment of Judges in the High Courts is an administrative matter and resided within the domain of the Supreme Court Collegium. Therefore, the issue being taken up by the judicial side would not be desirable. He also stated that as the data and information pertaining to the appointment of Judges was available with the Supreme Court and the High Courts, it would not be appropriate for the discussion to take place in open court. 
The AG also referred to the 1993 case of Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Ors. v. Union of India, which stated that all appointments and transfer of Judges do not confer any justiciable right in anyone. He also referred to the 2017 case of R.P. Luthra v. Union of India and Anr. wherein the claim of the Petitioner regarding appointment of Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts was rejected on the ground that Memorandum of Procedure had not been finalized and directed that there should be no further delay in its finalization in larger public interest. This was recalled by a 3-judge Bench headed by former Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra who stated that there was no necessity to proceed with the matter in view of Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Anr. v. Union of India [(2016) 5 SCC 1] and Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and Anr. v. Union of India [AIR 2016 SC 117].
This submission was rejected by the Bench:
"We are both pained and in disagreement with the stand sought to be taken as it does not appreciate the endeavour in the present proceedings which is limited in its very character. We are not examining as to who is to be elevated and on what consideration. We are re-emphasizing our endeavour, in the first instance, is only to see that where all stake holders are on the same page the appointments should go through in a total period of six months."

"We reiterate that we are putting this burden on the learned Attorney General to sort out this problem in the larger interest of the judicial process in view of the concern we had expressed on the last date and we would expect learned Attorney General to revert back on this aspect".

The Bench stated that all stake holders "should stop looking at shadows, the process is collaborative and the endeavour should be to improve the situation by reducing the time periods."
The Court directed the AG to sort out the issue regarding appointments as inadequacies were bringing the working of the High Courts to a grinding halt; a number of High Courts were working at only 50% of strength and with the appointments in the last year being the same as the retirements, leaving 37% vacancies on an all India basis. 
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh submitted that that despite discussion on various occasions to see that advocates practising in this Court may be considered for High Court appointments in respect of respective States, not much progress appears to have been made in this behalf.
"This is an aspect for the Collegium and the Government to consider" the Bench said.

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