Supreme Court Seeks Attorney General’s Guidance Regarding Delay in Judges’ Appointments


LI Network

Published on: 23 August 2023 at 12:26 IST

In a recent development, the Supreme Court has taken a significant step in addressing concerns about the delay or non-notification of judges’ appointments despite final recommendations from the Supreme Court’s Collegium.

This move comes in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that questions the practice of the Central Government in delaying or denying appointments, which is perceived to disregard the principles enshrined in Article 124(2), 217(1), and 222(1) of the Constitution, as well as the Second Judges Case.

The PIL was presented by Advocate Harsh Vibhore Singhal, who raised concerns over the perceived tendency of the Central Government to undermine the appointment of judges, thus allegedly infringing upon Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

The petition contends that despite the Supreme Court’s Collegium making final recommendations for appointments, the administrative process of issuing notifications is being unduly delayed or selectively applied.

According to Singhal, these notifications are mere formalities and do not encompass the actual appointment process, which has already been decided by the Collegium.

The bench assigned to the case, comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, recognized the significance of the matter and has sought the expertise of Attorney General R. Venkatramani.

As part of their order, the bench stated, “A copy of the petition be served on the office of the Attorney General for India. We request the Attorney General to assist the Court. List on 08 September 2023.”

Singhal’s PIL emphasizes that the discretion to delay or withhold notifications contradicts the principles established in the Second Judges Case.

The petitioner argues that the Central Government is legally obligated to adhere to the final recommendations of the Collegium and does not possess any authority, explicit or implied, to diverge from this process.

Singhal further asserts that the delay or denial of appointments infringes upon the fundamental rights of the judge candidates as guaranteed by Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

The petition advocates for the Supreme Court to exercise its powers under Article 142 to set specific timeframes for both the government’s objection to Collegium recommendations and the issuance of appointment notifications for uncontested recommendations.

The petition underscores the importance of rectifying the situation, pointing out previous instances where delays in appointments have drawn criticism from the judiciary itself. The Supreme Court has expressed concerns about prolonged delays in appointments, urging the government to adhere to reasonable timelines.

The petitioner contends that the Court should intervene to ensure the timely and fair implementation of judges’ appointments, as per the intent of the Second Judges Case.

In light of these developments, the Supreme Court’s pursuit of the Attorney General’s guidance signals a significant move towards addressing the concerns raised in the PIL.

The case, titled “Harsh Vibhore Singhal v. Union of India,” is poised to influence the manner in which judges’ appointments are handled in accordance with established constitutional principles.

The outcome of this case could potentially have far-reaching implications for the judicial process and uphold the rights of judges and litigants seeking prompt and effective justice.

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