The judiciary-executive fight spilled out into open court on Friday. A court full of people was witness to the huge tension that has built up over the recommendations of the Collegium on appointment of judges and the reaction of the executive. While the bench said that the government was sitting on the recommendations, Attorney General K K Venugopal challenged the judiciary directly, saying that with a huge number of vacancies existing, the Collegium was sending recommendations of only a few names to consider. Hence the entire onus was on the judiciary, not the government.
It was a case relating to vacancies for judges in the high courts of Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura, being heard by the Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta.
The bench asked the AG: “Tell us, how many names (recommended by the Collegium) are pending with you.” When the AG replied: “I will have to find out”, the bench hit back strongly, saying: “When it comes to the government, you say ‘we will find out'”.
The AG a veteran lawyer of many a battle, was not one to step back. He said: “The Collegium will have to see the broad picture and recommend more names. Some high courts have 40 vacancies and recommendation of the Collegium is only for three. And the government is being told that we are tardy in filing up the vacancies. If there is no Collegium recommendation, nothing can be done.”
The bench then reminded the government that they have to make the appointments.
Both stood their grounds and an impase resulted, all over again.
—India Legal Bureau