Over 400 vacancies in various high courts would get filled expeditiously with the Supreme Court collegium finalising the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said on Monday.
Justice Khehar made the statement while hearing public interest litigations on judicial vacancies that has led to an increase in the number of cases pending cases before courts. The chief said the filling of judicial vacancies was being done on “war footing.”
“Things will come in the open quickly,” he said, wrapping up the petitions that were pending for over a year. Justice Khehar’s predecessor Justice TS Thakur had lashed out at the Centre for sitting over collegium’s recommendations to appoint HC judges. Although a formal notice was never issued on the petitions, Justice Thakur had warned of issuing judicial orders if the government failed to act.
Justice Khehar, however, brought curtains to the proceedings, saying a panel comprising all chief justices of the HCs had been set up to look into judicial vacancies. Some petitions were referred to the committee.
The bench also turned down petitioners’ demand to direct the government to raise the posts of HC judges. “Let us first fill up the existing vacancies. Judges’ strength was recently increased. A few steps have already been taken,” the CJI said.
The government and judiciary have been at loggerheads ever since a Constitution Bench declared the NJAC Act that gave Executive a say in judges' appointments unconstitutional in October 2015. Sources privy to the development informed HT that the collegium has retained its final say in the appointments, although it has agreed to have a relook at a recommendation if the government objects to it on the ground of national security.