Collegium resends 9 names despite Centre’s objections
The Supreme Court collegium on Friday overruled the objections of the Union government and reiterated nine names for appointment as judges in different high courts, recommending 68 people in total across 12 high courts.
The reiterations include four names for the Calcutta high court; two for the Jammu & Kashmir high court; two for the Karnataka high court, and one for the Rajasthan high court.
“The Supreme Court collegium in its meeting held on 1st September, 2021 has, on reconsideration, resolved to reiterate its earlier recommendations for elevation of the advocates as judges in the high courts,” stated the resolution published on the Supreme Court website on Friday night.
The three-member collegium comprises Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, and justices Uday U Lalit and AM Khanwilkar.
Apart from the reiterations, the collegium also recommended 59 names for judges in 11 high courts across India. This the highest number of names recommended for appointment as HC judges.
Among the 68 names cleared in total, 44 are lawyers while 24 are serving judicial officers. There are 10 women names among the recommendations. In yet another first, a woman judicial officer belonging to the scheduled tribes was recommended for appointment in the Gauhati high court. As reported by HT on August 31, the Centre declined to accept 14 names for appointment in the high courts as judges, asking the collegium to review its recommendations. This included the oldest recommendation made by the collegium back in July 2019 for the Calcutta high court.
Similarly, one name for the Jammu & Kashmir high court was pending for almost 21 months; another one not accepted by the government for the same court was forwarded in March this year after additional inputs sought by the government regarding the advocate’s legal practice.
The government had also demanded reconsideration of two names meant for the Karnataka and Kerala high courts. Of the two names returned for the Karnataka high court, one was initially recommended in October 2019 and reiterated in March this year.
There is, however, no resolution yet on the four names sent back by the government for the Delhi high court and one name for the Kerala high court.
The memorandum of procedure (MoP), which guides the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary, makes it clear that the government is bound by the decision of the collegium after the names are reiterated.
The resolutions published on the website also stated that three names of judicial officers were being sent againfor appointment as judges in the Allahabad high court apart from fresh recommendations for 13 new names.
Three judicial officers and three lawyers have also been recommended for appointment in the Rajasthan high court, while five judicial officers have been sought to be elevated as judges in the Jharkhand high court.
In addition to reiteration of old recommendations, six fresh names have been sent for appointment in the Calcutta high court.
For appointments in the Kerala high court, four names each from among lawyers and judicial officers have been recommended by the collegium. One name for the Madhya Pradesh high court and four names for the Madras high court have also been forwarded to the Centre.
Two fresh names for the Jammu & Kashmir high court; two for the Chhattisgarh high court; five for the Gauhati high court and four names for the Punjab & Haryana high court have also been recommended.
As of August 1,455 posts of high court judges were lying vacant in 25 high courts across the country, translating to more than 41% of the total strength.
The high courts of Delhi, Allahabad, Calcutta, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Patna, Punjab and Haryana, Rajasthan and Telangana face shortage of more than one-third of their total judges’ strength.