NEW DELHI: THE delay in appointments of judges could be down to thorough background checks of candidates recommended by the Supreme Court collegium, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made clear during a recent internal meeting that the government would not yield to pressure, be it internal or external, when it comes to making judicial appointments.
While there was intense pressure to expeditiously clear appointments in view of the mounting vacancies and pendency of cases, Modi, at a recent internal meeting, made it clear that even if there was an iota of doubt, the government would not accept the names. “We will not come under pressure. We want clean people in the judiciary and if the process requires some time, so be it,” Modi is understood to have said at the meeting.
Following Chief Justice T S Thakur’s criticism of the government over the delay in appointments to High Courts, Modi met Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss the issue of pending files with the ministry. “In certain cases, the ministry has observed the need for re-examination of files. The law minister is said to have given five to seven examples of cases recommended for High Court appointments where the files have been forwarded for a fresh background scrutiny. It was made clear to the PM that in some cases, pressure was also from within the government,” sources said on the condition of anonymity.
There has been an unprecedented rise in vacancies on account of differences between the executive and the judiciary over the memorandum of procedure after the apex court quashed the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act and restored the collegium system.
The Law Ministry is yet to take a decision on 227 files related to judges’ appointments, while it has forwarded 78 names to the Chief Justice-led collegium for consideration. As many as 478 posts are vacant in 24 High Courts, with around 39 lakh cases pending in these courts.