Even five months after Parliament gave its go-ahead to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 26 to 31, the appointments process is yet to begin. The reason: a tussle between the court and the government on the location of houses for the new judges.
A war of letters is on between court officials and the urban development ministry on where to provide “official residences” to the five new judges to be appointed.
The Supreme Court registry is awaiting a reply from the ministry on its latest reminder, sent a month ago.
A week after Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said it was not possible “to wait any more” on the issue, ministry sources said on Wednesday that houses were available but it was not possible to fulfil the demand of “preferred VIP addresses”.
The problem: there is no Type VIII bungalow vacant at Krishna Menon Marg, Tuglaq Road, Akbar Road and Motilal Nehru Marg — the areas preferred by the judges.
“We’re willing to provide accommodation equivalent to Type VIII bungalows to the new judges in nearby areas,” said a ministry official. “We’ll be happy to shift them whenever there are vacancies in their preferred areas, but we can’t create fresh bungalows.”
The Supreme Court is not satisfied with the explanation. Balakrishnan recently went public with his resentment on the issue of non-availability of houses for the new judges. “We cannot wait any more and will soon start the process,” he had said on July 6.