Relations between the judiciary and the executive cannot but be exemplary. No doubts should arise on this score. It is against this backdrop that Chief Justice of India TS Thakur’s comments in an open court about the deterioration in their relations should be seen. He has even warned that the court would have to take a strict view of the tactics employed to short-circuit judicial appointments. There is no doubt that the executive and the judiciary have not been on the best of terms ever since the apex court struck down in October last the law to have a National Judicial Appointments Commission. The judges seem to believe that the government has been delaying, if not sabotaging, appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
Chief Justice Thakur has accused the government of sitting tight on the proposals to fill up 74 vacancies in various high courts. The names were proposed by the Supreme Court collegium, which has been making such appointments ever since the court took over this responsibility from the government. Though the collegium selects candidates, it is the government which has to do their background checks. This may take some time but the process cannot be interminable. This is more so when over 40 per cent posts of judges are vacant in high courts and innumerable cases are pending.
Often, the courts are the last resort of those who feel that they had been wronged against by fellow citizens or by any of the organs of the State. Litigation is a very costly venture. It is out of helplessness that they file a writ petition and if there is no guarantee that their cases would be taken up or disposed of within a reasonable period of time, they would lose faith in the judicial system. Whether a commission should appoint judges or judges themselves should appoint them is a question that needs to be settled soon. For the time being, the government should ensure that all vacancies in high courts are filled up expeditiously.