In order to address the rising vacancies in high courts across the country, the Supreme Court has proposed a timeline for the central government and the Information Bureau for considering recommendations for the appointment of judges.
The apex court has observed that once the Supreme Court collegium has endorsed the recommendations, the central government shall make such appointments within 3-4 weeks of receiving the collegium’s decision.
While reiterating the glaring concern of increasing judicial vacancies, the Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said:
"We cannot but note the importance of the Chief Justices of the High Courts making recommendations in time. The vacancies are known and the norms permit making recommendations up to six months in advance. However, even recommendations for 220 existing vacancies appear not to have been made in time much less for other vacancies, which are going to arise in the next six months." - Supreme Court of India
Crisis of Vacancies In High Courts
A Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant said that once the Central government receives inputs/ views of State government and Intelligence Bureau (IB), it would be desirable that the file be forwarded to the Supreme Court Collegium within 8 to 12 weeks.
The Bench also asked the Chief Justices of the high courts to recommend vacancies as early as possible even if they are not made at one go.
"Out of that, 196 proposals to fill up those vacancies are pending with the government while in case of 220 vacancies, High Court collegiums are yet to make recommendations." - Supreme Court
The court also observed in its order that “against the sanctioned strength of 1080 Judges, 664 Judges have been appointed with vacancies of 416 Judges.
To streamline the process of appointment of judges in high courts, the apex court laid down the following guidelines:
The IB should submit its report/inputs within 4 to 6 weeks from the date of recommendation of the High Court Collegium, to the Central Government.
It would be desirable that the Central Government forward the file(s)/recommendations to the Supreme Court within 8 to 12 weeks from the date of receipt of views from the State Government and the report/input from the IB.
It would be for the Government to thereafter proceed to make the appointment immediately on the aforesaid consideration and undoubtedly if Government has any reservations on the suitability or in the public interest, within the same period of time it may be sent back to the Supreme Court Collegium with the specific reasons for reservation recorded.
If the Supreme Court Collegium after consideration of the aforesaid inputs still reiterates the recommendation(s) unanimously, such appointment should be processed and appointment should be made within 3 to 4 weeks.
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