September 22, 2021 3:57:17 am
In another determined push to fill judicial vacancies in High Courts and spruce up their working, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana has recommended appointment of Chief Justices for eight HCs and cleared the transfer of five HC Chief Justices.
Coming amid concerns over judicial backlog resulting from the vacancies, the decision is seen as a significant step and reflects the “collective determination of the Collegium to strengthen the judiciary by filing vacancies”.
It also comes hardly a month after the Collegium created a record of sorts by recommending nine judges to the top court, leaving it with just one vacancy out of a sanctioned strength of 34 judges. This was followed by recommendations to fill 94 vacancies in various HC, the highest ever by the Collegium in such a short period.
As per resolutions uploaded on the top court’s official webpage on Tuesday, Collegium members who met on September 16 recommended elevation of Acting Chief Justice (CJ) of Calcutta HC, Justice Rajesh Bindal, as CJ of Allahabad HC; and Justice Prakash Shrivastava of Madhya Pradesh HC as CJ of Calcutta HC. Acting CJ of Chattisgarh HC, Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, has been recommended as the new CJ of Andhra Pradesh HC; while Justice Rituraj Awasthi, now with Allahabad HC, has been recommended as Karnataka HC CJ.
The Collegium recommended Justice Satish Chandra Sharma of Karnataka HC for the office of Telengana HC CJ, and Justice Ranjit V More of Bombay HC as Meghalaya HC CJ. Justice Aravind Kumar of Karnataka HC has been recommended as Gujarat HC CJ, and Acting CJ of Himachal Pradesh HC, R V Malimath, has been recommended as Madhya Pradesh CJ.
While some of the eight CJ posts were already vacant, four more fell vacant after elevation of Justices Hima Kohli, Vikram Nath, Abhay S Oka and J K Maheshwari — who were CJs of Telengana, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Sikkim HCs, respectively — as Supreme Court judges recently.
The five CJs recommended for transfer are Justice Arup Kumar Goswami from Andhra Pradesh HC to Chhattisgarh HC, Justice Mohammad Rafiq from Madhya Pradesh HC to Himachal Pradesh HC, Justice Akil Kureshi from Tripura HC to Rajasthan HC, Justice Indrajit Mahanty from Rajasthan HC to Tripura HC, and Justice Biswanath Somadder from Meghalaya HC to Sikkim HC.
The resolutions also show that the Collegium, in meetings held on September 16 and 21, cleared the transfer of 23 HC judges. Five of these names are reiterations, indicating that the Collegium had decided to stand by its recommendation on them, notwithstanding representations from the individual judges to reconsider.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that the Collegium had proposed 28 names of HC judges for transfer and has learnt that the process is continuing with some more names.
After assuming charge as the CJI in April this year, Justice Ramana has recommended nearly 100 names for appointment to different high courts, besides filling up nine vacancies of judges in the Supreme Court in one go.
The 25 high courts in the country have a combined sanctioned strength of 1,080 judges and on May 1, 2021, they were functioning with 420 judges only.
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