The Supreme Court on Friday said that it has not accepted the Centre’s stand of rejecting the 43 names recommended by the apex court Collegium for their appointment as judges of the various high courts and these have been sent back for reconsideration. “We have reiterated 43 names for the appointment as judges of high courts which were rejected by the government and have been sent back for reconsideration,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and A R Dave said.
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The apex court stated this after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi reminded the bench about the statement made by him during the last hearing on Tuesday. The CJI who heads the five-member Collegium of judges told him that “we have seen”. The AG expressed his ignorance about the latest development saying “I am not aware about it”.
The Centre on Tuesday told the court that it has cleared 34 names out of the 77 recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges in various high courts in the country. The government had also apprised the apex court that no file with regard to the recommendations for appointment of judges was pending with it.
“Out of total 77 names, 34 names have been cleared for the appointment and rest 43 recommendations have been sent back to the apex court collegium for reconsideration,” AG, appearing for the Centre, had told the bench. The bench posted the matter for further hearing after the winter vacation.
Rohatgi, on November 11, had told the court that the Centre had already sent the fresh draft of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for consideration of the collegium on August 3, this year, but so far no response has been received by the government.
The apex court had earlier rapped the government for delay in appointments to higher judiciary despite recommendations made by the collegium in this regard and had said the entire institution cannot be brought to a grinding halt.
Maintaining that the appointment process “cannot be stalled” due to non-finalisation of the MoP, the court had criticised the tardy progress in processing files pertaining to judges’ appointment and even warned that it may summon the Secretaries of the PMO and the Ministry of Law and Justice to ascertain the factual position.
The Attorney General had said that non-finalisation of the MoP was one of the issues and had assured the bench that more progress will be seen in the near future on the appointment of judges.
The Centre had on September 14 told the apex court that there was “no blame game” or “logjam” in appointments and transfer of judges for higher judiciary but blamed the high courts for “pretty much delaying” the starting of the process.
Earlier, the apex court had said it would not tolerate “logjam in judges’ appointment” and would intervene to “fasten accountability as the justice delivery system is collapsing”. The bench had said that if the government had reservation about any name, it could always come back to the collegium.