The Punjab and Haryana high court (HC) collegium is learnt to have cleared the names of three Haryana superior judicial service officers for elevation to the posts of additional judge of the HC.
The names of legal remembrancer and administrative secretary, Haryana (law and legislative department), Kuldip Jain; Faridabad district and sessions judge Inderjeet Mehta; and Panipat district and sessions judge Anil Kumar Singh Panwar -- top three as per seniority -- were cleared by the collegium in the first week of December.
The HC collegium comprises chief justice SJ Vazifdar and two other senior-most judges, justices SS Saron and AK Mittal. The names are learnt to have been sent to the state government as well as to the Supreme Court for their consideration. Panwar is to retire later this month.
The current strength of judges in the HC is 46, including the chief justice, with shortfall of 39 judges against sanctioned posts. The shortfall has virtually crippled the functioning of the court, with a number of cases before many of the judges crossing 100 per day. Five judges retired this year, but only one fresh appointment -- of justice HS Madaan -- could be made, that too earlier this month. The court, however, got four judges from other HCs this year. Seven judges are to retire in 2017.
The three recommendations come after seven months, when 10 names, including seven of lawyers, were recommended in June. However, only one appointment from three names recommended from the lower judiciary of Punjab was cleared. Others are stuck due to a seniority dispute among them, pending before the apex court, it is learnt. Another reason for the delay in appointments is believed to be the logjam between the Centre and Supreme Court over the memorandum of procedure for appointment to higher judiciary. No appointment from amongst lawyers has been made since September 2014.