Even as the Supreme Court came down heavily on the government over the delay in appointments to the higher judiciary, the Centre questioned the delay in finalising the new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), the revised draft of which is pending with the collegium for over two months.
“The government is keen to expedite appointment of judges and as explained in the court, 86 fresh appointments have been made in the high courts. 121 additional judges have been made permanent, 14 chief justices have been appointed and four chief justices transferred,” a government source said.
“But there is certainly a concern as to how long the Supreme Court will continue to seek appointments under the existing collegium as well as the MoP, both of which the Supreme Court bench that decided the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case had said lacked transparency and hence need improvement. The government sent the draft MoP to the Chief Justice of India on August 8 and we haven’t heard anything on the issue so far. That also needs to be expedited now,” said a source.
Sources said that while recommendations sent by the collegium are certainly pending with the government, the Supreme Court collegium has itself also rejected large number of recommendations made by the collegium of various high courts.
“The Allahabad High Court collegium recommended 19 names but the Supreme Court collegium recommended only eight names. Another instance is that of Karnataka High Court, here the collegium recommended 10 names but only two names were cleared by the Supreme Court collegium. Rajasthan HC collegium recommended 10 names but the SC collegium sent us only four names. These should also factors for paucity of judges as well as another reason why the collegium system is flawed,” the source said.
He also pointed out that there was also a judicial direction to finalise the MoP, a document that guides appointments of Supreme Court and High Court judges. Sources also said that the focus should also be on the large number of vacancies in the subordinate judiciary — in most states selection of judges in the subordinate judiciary are done by the respective high court. As per latest figures, there is a shortage of 5,111 judicial officers who run subordinate courts across the country.