Union Government criticized SC and HCs for flouting norms on judge appointments

Soni Satti

The Union government criticized the Supreme Court for delaying the appointment of High Court judges and retaliated accusing the Supreme Court and High Courts of flagrantly violating the memorandum of procedure (MoP), which requires the initiating of the process for appointing judges six months before a vacancy occurs.

The Memorandum of procedure (MoP) is a written agreement between the judiciary and the executive on the appointment of constitutional court judges. The department of justice stated, “As of March 26, out of 410 vacancies of judges, HC collegiums have not made recommendations for 214 posts or 52 percent of posts

On March 27, a bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Surya Kant, and Justices S K Kaul questioned Attorney General KK Venugopal as to why on April 8 the government was delaying sending 45 names recommended by the High court collegiums for appointment as High Court judges for periods ranging from six to fourteen months to the Supreme court collegium for consideration.

The government was also reviewing ten names cleared by the Supreme court collegium for appointment as High court judges for terms ranging from seven to 19 months.

Justice Kaul pointed out that the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium for the appointment of five advocates as judges of the Calcutta High Court was submitted to the government on July 25, 2019, and is yet to be cleared.

The law ministry recently forwarded 45 names to the Supreme Court collegium for review, as suggested by various High Court collegiums. On April 8, the Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit involving the delay in appointing judges. A law ministry source stated,

“The oldest vacancy, to be filled from among advocates’ quota, dates back to October 14, 2014, in Orissa High court where the High court collegium is yet to make a recommendation even after more than six years. There are at least nine other High courts where against the oldest vacancy from bar quota, no recommendation has been made for more than five years.”

The ministry also criticized the Supreme Court collegium, claiming it had not yet recommended the appointment of a judge to fill the vacancy left by CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s retirement on November 17, 2019. They added that Since then, the number of vacancies has increased to five, and the Supreme court collegium has not made a decision.

Furthermore, pointing to the lack of a recommendation for the appointment of women Supreme court judges, the ministry mentioned that Justice Indira Banerjee is the only female judge in Supreme Court.

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