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Modi govt finally forwards 45 names for appointment as HC judges after SC nudge

The names were pending with the Centre for inputs from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and background check of the candidates for a period ranging between 6 and 14 months.

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New Delhi: Nudged by the Supreme Court, the Centre has finally forwarded 45 names for appointment as high court judges to the top court collegium for its scrutiny, ThePrint has learnt.

The names, recommended to the Centre by various high courts, were pending with it for inputs from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and background check of the candidates for a period ranging between six and 14 months, sources in the Supreme Court told ThePrint.

With this development, while the collegium is now seized of 75 recommendations, of which 30 belong to Allahabad High Court, the Centre has cleared all the proposals that were pending with it.

“These names were received by the collegium last week. The last time when the government had sent the recommendations was in December. Now, as per the memorandum of procedure (MoP), the names would be discussed amongst the collegium members and sent back to the government for a final notification,” a source said.

Names sent after SC sought views on appointing ad-hoc judges

The process to place the names before the collegium, which is led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and has two senior judges after him as members, has already started and formalities will complete soon, the source said.

These 45 names were forwarded following the top court’s observations that a reasonable time frame should be fixed for the government to respond to collegium resolution.

The remarks by a bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising justices S.K. Kaul and Surya Kant were made on 25 March, while it was hearing a matter related to a large number of vacancies in 25 high courts.

According to the law ministry data, over 38 per cent of sanctioned posts of judges are lying vacant across the high courts.

During the 25 March hearing the bench also sought responses from all high courts on the possibility of having ad-hoc judges. The bench is likely to assemble Thursday to take up this issue.


Also read: ‘Only 8 women SC judges in 70 years’: Plea seeks greater representation in higher judiciary


Centre yet to decide on 10 names cleared by SC collegium

In the same matter, the court had also highlighted that the government was sitting over 10 names cleared by the top court collegium.

Under the MoP, a high court collegium sends its recommendation regarding appointment of judges to the Centre as well as the Supreme Court collegium. The SC collegium can clear names only after it receives proposals from the government following the candidates’ background checks.

Once the collegium approves the names, the files are sent back to the law ministry for their notification.

According to sources, the government is yet to take a final call on these 10 files that have been with it for a period ranging between seven to 19 months.

At the last hearing, Justice Kaul had given the breakup regarding the names pending with the Centre. He had said that the top court’s recommendation to appoint five advocates as judges of Calcutta High Court was sent to the government on 25 July 2019, an advocate’s name cleared for Jammu and Kashmir High Court was pending for 17 months, and four names for Delhi High Court were awaiting a notification for seven months.

(Edited by Neha Mahajan)


Also read: SC collegium clears 13 names as judges for Bombay HC despite red flags by two senior judges


 

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