Chief Justice JS Khehar on Monday indicated that the stalemate between the judiciary and the executive over the proposed Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges for the higher judiciary might end because the collegium he heads is likely to finalise it by the end of the month.
“We will finalise the MoP very quickly… probably within this month,” CJI told a lawyer from Haryana, who moved the Supreme Court, demanding transparency in judicial appointments.
Petitioner Satyaveer Sharma aired his grievance that lawyers appearing regularly in high courts were considered for the higher judiciary, while those working in trial courts were never shortlisted for the elevation.
MoP has been a bone of a contention between the judiciary and the NDA government ever since a top court bench — then headed by justice Khehar — in October 2015 struck down the new law that gave the executive a say in appointments to HCs and the SC.
Although the bench revived the collegium system under which the top judges of the Supreme Court chose judges, it admitted there were flaws in the procedure.
Therefore, the court advised the government to re-draft the existing MoP to usher greater transparency in judicial appointments.
However, the government and the judiciary failed to arrive at a consensus.
As the slugfest continued, vacancies in 24 HCs crossed 45%. Of the close to 1,100 posts of judges in high courts, around 500 were lying vacant. Eight of the 31 posts in SC were also vacant.
Last week, the Centre cleared the files of five HC judges that the Supreme Court collegium recommended for elevation to the top court.
On Sharma’s plea, Justice Khehar told him that the MoP would address many issues he has raised.
But, the CJI also said advocates in HCs were chosen as judges because of their experience before constitutional courts.