NEW DELHI: At a time when the judiciary is reeling under tremendous pressure due to backlog of cases, the Ministry of Law and Justice has the names of 227 judges pending with it for appointments and transfers to various High Courts in the country. As on date, 24 High Courts across the country have a standing vacancy of 477 judges.
Express has learnt that the government has forwarded a list of 78 names to the Collegium, led by the Chief Justice of India, T S Thakur, to be considered for appointment. The whole process, as per Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), takes six months as states, Intelligence Bureau and the Supreme Court Collegium have to be consulted before the appointment.
The High Court of Madhya Pradesh has a shortage of 19 judges and is learnt to have a list of 19 names for appointment. This is followed by the Madras High Court, which has forwarded names of 30 judges against 37 vacancies. Similarly, the High Court of Karnataka has sent names of 35 judges while the High Court of Hyderabad has forwarded names of 36 judges to fill equal number of vacancies. The inordinate delay in the appointment of judges is mainly due to the delay in finalising the MoP as both the judiciary and the government are not able to reach a conclusion over few clauses in the draft.
MoP details the procedure to be followed during the judicial appointments. While the Central government had formulated the MoP, the Supreme Court sent it back for reconsideration as it gave power to the government to reject a person recommended by the collegium.
Though the government had the right to reject a candidate’s name under the earlier procedure, the executive would have to appoint the person, if the collegium reiterated the name. The other reason for vacancies is the increase in sanctioned strength by the government and retirements of the judges.