Sunday, January 29, 2023

Supreme Court issues notice to Law Secretary seeking reason for delay in appointment of judges recommended by Collegium

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Coming down heavily on the Central government over delay in approving the names of people recommended by the Collegium for appointment as Judges, the Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Union Law Secretary, seeking reason over the same.

Terming the act of holding recommendations as ‘not acceptable,’ the Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Abhay S. Oka observed that after second reiteration, the Centre was only required to issue an appointment.

The Apex Court noted that the delay in approving the elevation of lawyers and judicial officers had prompted them in the past to withdraw their names, thus denying the judiciary of their expertise. This has become some sort of a ‘device,’ forcing the persons to withdraw their names, it added.  

A petition has been filed in the Apex Court by the Advocates Association Bengaluru, stating that the Centre’s failure to process the names recommended for appointment was in direct contravention of the Second Judges case.

Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh requested the Bench to initiate contempt proceedings against the Centre. He mentioned the case of Justice Dipankar Dutta, whose name was proposed five weeks ago, but was yet to be approved. Singh said the process only required a few days.

The Bench, while stating that it has resisted from issuing a contempt notice, noted that in 2021, the top court of the country had issued orders, seeking a broad timeline from the Centre, in which the process should be completed. The matter then pertained to delay in the appointments to High Courts.

Holding up the appointments by the Centre has led to delay in the process of Bar members accepting elevation to the Bench. The time period of sending names six months in advance was conceived on the principle that the time period would be enough for the completion of the process, noted the Apex Court.

Pointing out that 11 names were pending approval by the Union of India, with the oldest dating back to September, 2021, the top court of the country observed that this implied that the Central government neither appointed the names, nor communicated its reservations, if any on the same. 

It added that 10 recommendations were pending with the Centre, which had been reiterated by the Supreme Court Collegium.

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