Monday, March 20, 2023

Five names recommended by Collegium for SC judges to be cleared soon: Centre to SC

The Centre on Friday assured the Supreme Court that the Collegium’s recommendation of December last year for the appointment of five judges in the apex court will be cleared soon.
Attorney General R Venkataramani told a bench of justices S K Kaul and A S Oka that warrant of appointments of these five names is expected to be issued shortly.
During the hearing, the Supreme Court also expressed displeasure over the delay by the Centre in clearing recommendations for transfer of high court judges, saying “it is a very very serious issue”.
“Don’t make us take a stand which will be very uncomfortable,” the bench told the attorney general.
The Supreme Court Collegium on December 13 last year recommended five judges for elevation to the apex court — Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal, Patna High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Manipur High Court Chief Justice P V Sanjay Kumar, Patna High Court judge Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Allahabad High Court judge Manoj Misra.
Later, on January 31, the Collegium headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud recommended to the Centre the names of Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Aravind Kumar for elevation as apex court judges. The top court, which has a sanctioned strength of 34 judges including the Chief Justice of India (CJI), is currently functioning with 27 judges.
The Supreme Court was hearing a matter related to the Centre’s alleged delay in clearing names recommended by the Collegium for appointment as judges to the Supreme Court and high courts. During the hearing, the bench observed that five names were recommended in December last year and now it is February. “Should we record that for those five, warrants are being issued?” the bench said, adding, “When, is the next question?”.
Venkataramani assured the bench that the warrants of appointment of the names is expected to be issued soon. “I was given to understand that by Sunday, it may be issued,” the attorney general said. When Venkataramani said the issue concerning appointment of high court judges be deferred for some time, the bench referred to the aspect of delay in clearing the recommendations for transfer of high court judges and said it is “greatly troubling us”. “If transfer orders are not implemented, what do you want us to do,” the bench said, adding that “we withdraw judicial work from them, is that what you want?”. It said when the Collegium thinks somebody is appropriate for working in a high court and the government keeps the issue of transfer pending, it is “very serious”. “You will make us take some very very difficult decisions,” the bench said.
On the issue of delay in clearing recommendations for transfer, the apex court said, “We will not permit any third party to play a game with this.”
It said there is no question of delay in transfer of judges from one high court to the another when the government has a little role in this.
The bench observed that any delay in this may result in both administrative and judicial actions which may not be palatable.
It said one name was recommended by the Collegium for appointment as chief justice of a high court but the judge concerned is going to demit office in 19 days. “You want him to retire without being appointed as the chief justice?” the bench asked.
Venkataramani said he is aware of it and necessary action is being taken up.
The bench observed that sometimes names are cleared overnight, sometimes it takes time and there is no uniformity in this.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the petitioners, flagged the issue of names reiterated by the Collegium not being cleared by the government.
He said in some cases, despite second reiteration, the appointment has not been made yet. According to the law, the government has no option but to appoint those whose names have been reiterated, Bhushan said.
“It can’t go on like this,” he said.
An advocate, appearing for another petitioner, said the court is being “attacked outside the court”.
“We are used to it …We are used to handling this and be rest assured, it does not, beyond a stage, bother us. It is for different authorities to see what is appropriate and what is not appropriate,” Justice Kaul said.
The bench, which posted the matter for further hearing on February 13, said it is trying to resolve all the issues.
During the earlier hearing in the matter on January 6, the government had told the apex court that all efforts were being made to “conform” to the timelines laid down by the top court for processing the names recommended by the Collegium for appointment as judges to constitutional courts.
Amid the frosty Executive-Judiciary ties over the system of judges appointing judges, the attorney general had told the apex court that the government will adhere to timelines and the recent recommendations made by the Collegium of high courts have been processed with “utmost dispatch”.
The bench had then observed that delay in dealing with the recommendations sent by the Collegium for transfer of high court judges not only affects the administration of justice but also creates an impression as if third party sources are “interfering”.
The Collegium system has become a major flashpoint between the Supreme Court and the central government, with the mechanism of judges appointing judges drawing criticism from different quarters.
One of the pleas in the apex court has alleged “wilful disobedience” of the time frame laid down in its April 20, 2021 to facilitate timely appointment of judges.
In the order, the apex court had said the Centre should appoint judges within three-four weeks if the Collegium reiterates its recommendations unanimously.

Nearly 6.72 lakh cases pending in district, subordinate courts for over 20 years: Rijiju

Nearly 6.72 lakh cases are pending in various district and subordinate courts for more than 20 years, government told Lok Sabha on Friday.
In case of High Courts, there are 2,94,547 such cases. In a written reply, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “The number of cases pending for more than 20 years in the Supreme Court of India, as per the data retrieved from the Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS) as on January 27, 2023, is 208 cases.”
“In case of the (25) high courts, there are 2,94,547 cases and 6,71,543 cases in the district and subordinate courts that are pending for more than 20 years as per data available on National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) on February 01, 2023,” he said.
So far as the reasons for such long pendency of court cases is concerned, the Supreme Court has stated that there is no conspicuous reason which can be depicted for long pendency of cases, he said.
“Pendency of court cases is a multi-faceted problem. Due to the increase in the population of the country and awareness of their rights amongst the public, filing of fresh cases is also increasing with leaps and bounds year after year,” Rijiju said.


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