The Supreme Court on Thursday opined that a reasonable timeframe should be mandated within which Union Law Ministry has to respond to the names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for appointment as judges of High Courts.
The delay by Central government in processing names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for appointment as judges of High Courts prompted Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul to suggest while hearing a a plea by NGO Lok Prahari on appointment of retired judges to Supreme Court under Article 128 of the Constitution.
The Court in the case is also considering various aspects of judges’ appointments including vacancies in High Courts.
“There should be a reasonable time frame where the law ministry has to respond. After collegium recommends, they must reply in a time bound manner. Each stage there needs to be a thought process,” said Justice Kaul.
Justice Kaul revealed there are many names which have been cleared by the Supreme Court Collegium but are pending with the Union Law Ministry for more than 6 months.
“There are 45 names which has been recommended by High Courts but not sent to collegium. There are names we have cleared but the law ministry has not cleared them yet since more than 6 months,” he said.
At this juncture, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde who was heading the Bench, said that Justice Kaul has prepared a chart regarding the status of various recommendations made by Collegium.
“Will you make a statement regarding clearing the 55 names. We will send the chart. We want you to make a statement,” CJI Bobde told Attorney General KK Venugopal who was appearing on behalf of the Central government.
“We will,” responded Venugopal.
Senior advocate and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Vikas Singh submitted that Supreme Court lawyers should also be considered for appointment as judges of High Courts.
“We do recommend,” said CJI Bobde.
“That does not happen usually,” Singh said.
“The problem is not with collegium but with some bar association in some states,” was the CJI’s answer.
Currently, the twenty-five High Courts in the country are functioning with 661 judges though the combined sanctioned strength of the High Court is 1,080. Thus, the vacancy position as on March 1, 2021 is 419.