New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it is very concerned wit the over six month delay caused by the Centre in accepting recommendations of the top court collegium on the appointment of judges in High Courts.
It emphasised that there should a reasonable time frame for the Centre to respond on the names sent by the collegium for High Court judges.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant, said there have been instances where names of judges have been pending for close to a year. It told Attorney General K.K. Venugopal that it has prepared a chart with respect to the pendency of collegium recommendation at the Centre’s level for vacancies pan-India.
The bench said: “There are 45 names which has been recommended by High Courts but not sent to the collegium (Supreme Court Collegium). There are 10 names cleared by the collegium which are awaiting notification. There is total of 55 names.. cannot be an indefinite process.”
It asked the Centre when it wants to propose 45 names for the collegium and also notify the 10 names for appointment. It said that the names have been cleared by the top court but the Law Ministry has not cleared them for more than six months.
“The Law Ministry has to respond to the collegium’s recommendation in a time-bound manner,” added Justice Kaul.
The top court sought the AG’s response about the status on recommendations made by the collegium. “You make a statement about the time frame within which these 55 names will be decided,” the bench told Venugopal, who agreed to do so on te next date of hearing on April 8.
Out of sanctioned strength of 1,080 judges in 24 High Courts, there are as many as 419 vacancies.
The observation from the bench came during the on case PLR Projects Ltd vs Mahanadi Coalfields Pvt Ltd, which is a 2019 transfer petition seeking to transfer a case from Orissa High Court to the top court due to lawyers’ strike there. During the hearing of this matter, the top court deliberated upon the pendency of collegium recommendation with the Centre.