Govt awaits recommendations to fill slots in SC, HCs

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New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) There are four vacancies in the Supreme Court and the apex court collegium is yet to take a final call on recommendations made by various high courts months ago to appoint new HC judges, sources in the government said.

They pointed out that the law ministry is yet to receive recommendations from the SC collegium in this regard.

The first vacancy in the Supreme Court arose following the retirement of Justice Ranjan Gogoi in November 2019 as the Chief Justice of India.

Subsequently, three more vacancies arose in the top court following the retirements of justices Deepak Gupta, R Banumathi and Arun Mishra.

With a sanctioned strength of 34, the apex court is functioning with 30 judges at present.

The government has so far not received any recommendation from the collegium to fill up these vacancies in the Supreme Court, a senior functionary said.

Vacancies keep arising in courts due to retirement, resignation or elevation of judges.

The government has maintained that appointment of judges in the high courts is a 'continuous collaborative process' between the Executive and the Judiciary, as it requires consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities.

As per the procedure for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the 25 high courts, the apex court collegium recommends the names of candidates to the government which, in turn, either accepts the proposal or returns it for reconsideration.

The high court collegiums first send their recommendations to the Law Ministry which in turn processes the files by attaching IB reports and forwards it to the SC collegium.

The collegium comprises the CJI and four senior-most judges of the apex court.

The functionary also pointed out that the apex court collegium is yet to take a decision on proposals made by various HC collegiums to appoint 23 candidates as high court judges.

These proposals of the high courts are pending for months, the functionary pointed out. The proposal for one candidate has been pending with the top court collegium for nearly three years. Some other proposals are pending for nearly two years.

Nearly 47 other recommendations made in the recent past are pending with the SC collegium.

The combined sanctioned strength of the 25 high courts is 1,079 judges.

As on January 1, there were 411 vacancies, with the maximum of 64 in the Allahabad High Court.

The Supreme Court Wednesday took strong note of the delay on the part of the Central government in acting on the collegium's recommendations clearing names for appointment of judges in higher judiciary, saying “it is a matter of great concern”.

It said in some cases, the Centre has taken more than a year in responding to the recommendations and usually refers to their pendency with the Intelligence Bureau or with state governments.

Responding to the observations, the functionary said facts speak for themselves. The government still await recommendations, the functionary added. PTI NAB NAB RDM RDM