The Supreme Court has stated that the delay caused by the Central Government in approving the collegium recommendations is discouraging good lawyers from giving consent for judgeship.
While considering a contempt petition filed against the Union Ministry of Law and Justice for not adhering to the time-lines set by the Court for finalising the appointment process, the Court discussed how the delay is making many lawyers reluctant to join the bench as they "do not want their life to be dragged into an uncertainty".
The Attorney General for India R Venkataramani submitted a status report before the Court stated that High Courts are not making the recommendations six months in advance of the vacancy, which is leading to the vacancies piling up.
The bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, AS Oka and Justice Vikram Nath explained the reason for the inability of the High Courts to make such advance recommendations. The bench observed in the order as follows :
"The main reason is that the window of the age in which these recommendations are made are broadly from 45 to 55 years. Requisite talent of the Bar has to be tapped in this age group. There are difficulties in some courts on account of the availability of eligible persons. But more than that, the endeavour is required to persuade the lawyers to join the Bench. An elevation to the Bench is always considered an honour. However, there has been reluctance on the part of the successful lawyers to accept the honour and what we have stated in our last order is out of the experience of not being able to persuade such eminent people to join the Bench with one factor largely weighing in with them apart from any other issue, i.e. the long prolonged process of appointment and putting their career on hold. Thus on one hand, they are making a monetary sacrifice to come on to the Bench in a larger cause of justice but in that process they do not want their life to be dragged into an uncertainty".
The bench stated that there are instances of persons withdrawing their consent who are recommended to be elevated to the Bench. The bench stated that an "eminent lawyer" withdrew his consent as the Centre kept his file pending despite being reiterated by the Collegium.
The bench was impliedly referring to Senior Advocate Aditya Sondhi withdrawing his consent for being elevated as a judge of the Karnataka High Court.
At the same time, the bench reiterated that the High Courts must make recommendations in time.
"The report seeks to highlight the prospective vacancies in the next six months and we have no hesitation in saying that the High Courts must take effective steps tomake recommendations in time so as to not carry the burden of the absence of recommendations being made in time".
[Case Title: Advocates Association Bengaluru v. Barun Mitra And Anr. Contempt Petition (C) No. 867/2021 in TP(C) No. 2419/2019]
For detailed report on the hearing, refer this report - 'Collegium System Is The Law Of The Land, Must Be Followed' : Supreme Court Tells Centre; Asks AG To Advise Govt Of The Legal Position
'Comments Against Collegium Not Well Taken' : Supreme Court Asks AG To Advise Govt Functionaries To Exercise Control'
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