New Delhi, Jan 6: The Central government on Friday assured the Supreme Court that it will adhere to the timeline and expedite the judges’ appointment process, while the top court pointed out that sending back reiterated names by the Centre was a matter of concern.
At the outset, Attorney General R. Venkataramani, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Justice Sanjay KishanKaul that some recent recommendations sent by the high courts were being processed, probably 44 recommendations (name of judges) sent by the collegium will be cleared either by Saturday or this weekend.
The AG emphasized that all efforts were being made to conform to timelines fixed by the apex court for clearing the names recommended by the collegium for the appointment of judges to the high courts and the apex court. He added that 104 recommendations have been made by the high courts, which are with the Centre and out of which 44 would be cleared.
The bench, also comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka, queried the AG about the five names which were recommended by the apex court collegium in December last year for the elevation to the Supreme Court.
The AG replied, “would your lordships defer this for a little while? I have some inputs... I don’t think I should probably discuss it here.”
During the hearing, the top court also expressed displeasure at the government for sitting over the cases of transfers, asking if third parties were influencing it. The top court said ten recommendations for transfer have been made and these been made at the end of September and end of November. “In that, the government has a very limited role. Keeping them pending sends a very wrong signal. It is unacceptable to the collegium,” said the bench.
The bench also pointed out that 22 names (for the appointment as judges) were returned by the Centre recently, and some of those names were earlier reiterated by the collegium.
It further added that some names were reiterated by the collegium three times, despite which the Centre returned them. “Twenty-two names have been sent back by Centre and some reiterated (names) have been sent back and some of those sent back are even reiterated for the third time and some are ones which the Centre feels that we should consider, though not cleared by us...,” said the bench.
The bench said: “Sending back reiterated names by the Centre is a matter of concern. The government might have apprehensions, but names cannot be kept on hold without sending us some comments in the fear that we will reiterate”.
It added that once the collegium reiterates then there should not be a problem in clearing the appointment.
The top court also pointed out that delay by the Central government in clearing collegium recommendations leads to candidates withdrawing their consent for a judgeship or not giving consent. It emphasized that this delay has led to meritorious lawyers not giving their consent to become judges.
The top court scheduled the matter for further in the first week of February. It was hearing a contempt plea filed by The Advocates Association Bengaluru through advocate PaiAmit. The plea said the Centre has not complied with the directions of the apex court in connection with the time schedule set for the appointment of judges.