The Centre has begun the process of appointing 28 high court judges, amid a tussle between the executive and judiciary over judges’ posts lying vacant.
Law ministry sources said most of these judges will be appointed in December.
With 120 posts filled till November this year, the new hiring will take the number of judges appointed in a single year to an all-time high, surpassing 121 appointments in 2013.
“We have already processed these recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium. The notifications will follow soon,” a source said. The positions are likely to be filled in batches.
- There are 31 sanctioned posts in the Supreme Court, out of which seven are lying vacant
- In the high courts, there are 1079 sanctioned posts; 430 of them are vacant
The collegium — a body of five of the country’s senior-most judges headed by the Chief Justice of India — recommends judges’ names for the top court and high courts. For the high courts, however, each court has its own collegium to shortlist names and these are then sent to the law ministry.
The ministry forwards these names to the Supreme Court collegium for final selection.
Vacancies in the Supreme Court and 24 high courts have been a bone of contention between the judiciary and executive.
The top court has periodically lashed out at the government for not filling vacancies fast enough. The government is of the view that a bulk of the vacant posts should be filled under a new memorandum of procedure — guidelines for appointments to the higher judiciary.
But, with opposition parties also criticising the government’s stand, the law ministry has been appointing judges in small batches every month.
Of 1,079 sanctioned positions of judges in high courts, 430 are lying vacant. Likewise one-fourth of the 31 Supreme Court judges’ positions are yet to be filled.
Officials said it is unlikely Supreme Court judges will be appointed this year because no recommendations have been received so far.