SC to govt: Why delay in appointments cleared by Collegium?

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The Supreme Court of India (File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre about the delay in appointments of judges cleared by the apex court Collegium for the High Courts and asked the Attorney General to inform it in four weeks whether appointments can be made possible within six months of such recommendations.

A bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said the “High Courts were reaching a collapsing stage” and asked A-G K K Venugopal whether it would not be possible to clear the appointments on which the Collegium and the government “are on the same page” within the six-month period.

The A-G said the government alone could not be blamed and there was delay on the part of High Courts too in recommending names to fill up vacancies. Also, there is an income limit fixed for the nominees and sometimes names are from the less income bracket, he said, adding that the government then sends it back and things go into cold storage.

Justice Kaul said he was only referring to cases where the Collegium had cleared recommendations of the HC Collegium and the government too did not have any objection and yet the appointments are not happening on time. He added that “if Govt starts seeking shadows behind everything, there will be a problem. There are no shadows”.

The A-G said there were reasons and everything cannot be brought in the public domain. Intervening, Justice Joseph referred to the case of a lawyer from Kerala whose name was recommended by the High Court Collegium and approved by the Supreme Court Collegium. The government sent it back, but the Collegium reiterated its recommendation and yet the appointment was not happening, Justice Joseph pointed out and sought to know what was the reason and added, “As far as I know the law, the government is bound to clear the appointments.”

The A-G replied that he will find out what was the reason for the delay in this case. The A-G also said the main problem is the lack of enough talented lawyers. In High Courts, affluent lawyers were turning down the position of judges, he said. Agreeing, Justice Kaul said the problem is people who deserve to be judges are not willing. “Number of people who say no have increased,” he said.