NEW DELHI: To bring down vacancies in the various high courts, the Union government has decided against processing fresh recommendations made by 10 high courts for appointment of 110 additional judges till the Supreme Court ratifies the revised draft of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) that will guide future appointments to the higher judiciary.
According to the Law Ministry, chief justices of 10 high courts have recommended the names of 110 candidates from the state judicial services and the Bar for appointment as additional judges. At present, 464 judges’ posts are lying vacant in 24 high courts and over 3.2 crore cases are pending.
“After the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, the government had informed the Chief Justice of India that only appointments, which are in the pipeline, will be processed while a new Memorandum of Procedure to bring transparency in the collegium system is being cleared. Accordingly, 115 names which are in various stages of being considered for appointment as additional judges are being cleared,” an official said.
There is a rider to this though. While the government will continue to clear elevations and postings of sitting judges, it would not clear new names as additional judges till the MoP is ratified by the Supreme Court collegium.
Last week, the revised draft of the MoP was handed over to Chief Justice T S Thakur, who is now consulting the other judges on it. If the draft is ratified, it would be put in the public domain by the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry. If changes are suggested, the Law Ministry would have to redraft it. The revised draft MoP, which was recently approved by an inter-ministerial group, was earlier sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for final clearance. In the past few days, chief justices of the Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, Orissa, Calcutta, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala high courts have recommended a total of 110 candidates to be appointed as additional judges.
Meanwhile, out of 89 recommendations for elevation of additional judges of high courts as permanent judges, 66 have been cleared. Some of the issues highlighted by the draft MoP are transparency in appointment process, eligibility criteria, a permanent secretariat for the collegium and a process to evaluate and deal with complaints against candidates.
onus on apex court
The Centre has decided not to process new recommendations sent by 10 high courts with a view to bring down judges’ vacancies
At present, 462 judges’ posts are lying vacant in 24 high courts. And, a staggering 3.2 crore cases are pending in these courts
The govt logic is that appointment of addl judges is an ad hoc measure. It wants the SC to clear the memorandum of procedure for appointment of judges first
However, the govt is clearing elevations and postings of sitting judges. It has cleared 66 recommendations
Chief Justice TS Thakur holding consultations with other SC judges on MoP
Govt, judiciary on same page on some issues like setting up a permanent secretariat for the collegium