OVER two months after the Supreme Court collegium (SCC) set a record-of-sorts by recommending over 100 names for appointment as judges of various high courts, the Union of India continues to drag its feet in processing majority of the names.
Not just that, the Central government has also been rejecting many names cleared by the SCC after the Centre had sent them back to the SCC for reconsideration.
Between August 17 and September 9, the SCC had recommended over a hundred names of lawyers and judicial officers for various high courts, a feat that had been lauded by several, with even Chief Justice of India NV Ramana referring to it in one of his speeches.
However, in a clear sign that, despite the repeated olive branches extended to it by none other than the CJI himself, the Centre is not in any kind of rush to implement the SCC recommendations, with the Union government also learnt to have rejected some of the names.
It is also learnt that despite the SCC’s clear directive that while processing new names for the high courts of Jammu and Kashmir, Calcutta and Karnataka, the Justice Ministry would strictly give precedence in appointment to names recommended earlier, including those in the reiterated category, the Centre has ignored the same.
“It is a matter of concern that the Centre is continuing to follow the pick and choose policy while clearing names. The Chief Justice of India is aware of the same,” said a source in the Supreme Court.
Sources in the Supreme Court told India Ahead the Centre has also so far chosen not to clear a dozen-odd names which were reiterated by the SCC between May and September this year, with several of these names being recommended for the second time. Under the memorandum of procedure, once the SCC reiterates a candidate’s name again, the Union government has no option but to process the name. However, the current has repeatedly stalled names reiterated by the SCC, often without citing any valid reason.
Last month, the Advocates Association Bengaluru, filed a contempt plea in the Supreme Court, seeking action against the Central government for not processing the names of nine advocates and two judicial officers for their appointments as judges of different high courts even though the SCC had reiterated their names.
In its petition, which is yet to come up for hearing, the Association has asserted that inaction by the Centre in processing the names was an attempt to curb the independence of the judiciary.
Incidentally, in April, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and also comprising Justice Surya Kant had fixed timelines to be adhered to by the Union government while processing names.
In case, the SC bench said, the SCC reiterated its recommendation with regard to a name, the Centre would process the same and issue the warrants of appointment within 3 to 4 weeks.
However, in all cases, the Centre has been in breach of the timeline.