Updated: September 4, 2021 1:16:32 pm
Making a determined bid to fill the large number of vacancies in High Courts across the country, the Supreme Court Collegium has recommended 68 names, including 10 women, for elevation to the courts. This is the first time the Collegium has cleared so many names in one go.
The three-member Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, which met on August 25 and September 1, picked the names from a list of 112 probables. The Collegium is learnt to have sought more details on 16 of the names considered in the latest round.
As per the Department of Justice, as on September 1, there were 465 vacancies in the 25 High Courts — 281 of permanent judges and 184 of Additional Judges — against a sanctioned strength of 1,098. Of these, the Allahabad High Court accounted for 68 vacancies, Punjab and Haryana for 40 and Calcutta for 36.
The recommendation of 68 names comes just a fortnight after another Collegium headed by the CJI cleared nine names in one go for the Supreme Court (a five-member Collegium picks judges for the apex court). After the nine names, including three women, were cleared by the government, they took oath on August 31.
Apart from the CJI, the Collegium that cleared names for the High Courts included Justices U U Lalit and A M Khanwilkar. While 16 names were recommended for appointment to the Allahabad High Court, 8 were chosen for Kerala, 6 each for Calcutta and Rajasthan, 5 each for Gauhati and Jharkhand, 4 each for Punjab and Haryana and Madras, 2 for Chhattisgarh, and 1 for Madhya Pradesh.
Forty-four of those recommended for appointment to the High Courts are members of the Bar and the rest are judicial officers.
Marking another first, the recommendations include a name from Mizoram, Marli Vankung. A judicial officer from the state, she has been recommended for elevation to the Gauhati High Court.
On August 17, the Collegium had cleared seven names for the Telangana High Court.
The Collegium also resolved to reiterate its earlier recommendation to elevate nine advocates as judges of the Rajasthan, Calcutta, Jammu and Kashmir, and Karnataka High Courts.
In April, the Supreme Court had underlined concerns about vacancies in the High Courts, saying they were “in a crisis situation”. “There are almost 40% vacancies in the High Courts, with many of the larger High Courts working under 50% of their sanctioned strength,” it said.
To the Centre’s argument that one of the reasons was the delay on the part of the High Court Collegiums to recommend names, the Supreme Court had said it should clear the same within three-four weeks if the Collegium reiterated its recommendations unanimously.
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