Judiciary, executive at odds over retired judges’ posting
Justice Thakur had announced on April 25 that such appointments would help tide over the problem of vacancies in the higher judiciary.india Updated: Dec 18, 2016 00:14 IST
With the government sitting on the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation of appointing 25 retired judges to different high courts, the issue is fast emerging as the next flashpoint in the already-strained relationship between the judiciary and the executive.
The collegium — a panel of five top judges of the country headed by the Chief Justice of India — had sent its recommendations to the Centre after a joint meeting of chief justices of HCs and chief ministers in April decided to use a provision of the Constitution (Article 224A) that allows for such appointments.
Justice Thakur had announced on April 25 that such appointments would help tide over the problem of vacancies in the higher judiciary. However, the law ministry gave its nod to the proposal only in November. Even after that, it is yet to clear the names sent by the collegium.
“There are more than 50% vacancies in high courts. There are people (judges) who are retired. Those who are retired, tried and tested are to be appointed. Twenty-five names are lying with you. You have not cleared it,” a three-judge bench headed by CJI TS Thakur told additional solicitor-general Maninder Singh on November 29.
Sources in the law ministry said the government was not keen to move on the recommendations.
“The matter has been kept pending at the highest level,” a top official in the know revealed.
The Centre, after appointing 126 judges this year — an all-time high for any year — is keen that the collegium now focuses on clearing the memorandum of procedure, the set of guidelines under which judges are to be appointed.
The department of justice wrote to the parliamentary panel on law and justice last week, saying, “At present, there are no criteria of assessment of work of ad-hoc/acting judge during their tenure. There is no mechanism to deal with complaints against retired judges in the Supreme Court and high courts.”