‘Withholding names is not acceptable’, SC notice to Centre on delay in judges’ appointment

‘Withholding names is not acceptable’, SC notice to Centre on delay in judges’ appointment
File Pic

New Delhi, Nov 11: The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Union Law Secretary over a delay in the appointment of judges to the apex court and the high courts.

The top court also noted that for the time being, it is resisting issuing a contempt notice and only issuing a simple notice against the Law Ministry.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka observed that withholding of names was not acceptable as justice suffers.

It said there are 11 names pending for Centre’s approval, the oldest of which dates back to September 2021.

The bench said: “In view of delay, the courts are losing the chance to have eminent persons on the bench. Withholding names is not acceptable.”

The bench also expressed its discontent that among the names, reconsideration has been sought in cases and despite a second reiteration, the government did not clear the names, and the persons withdrew their names.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for The Advocates Association Bengaluru, asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the senior officers, as the recommendation made for the elevation of Bombay High Court judge, Justice Dipankar Dutta to the Supreme Court, has been kept pending.

Singh added that it has been five weeks since Justice Dutta’s name was proposed and it should have been approved in days. The court said keeping the names pending and not clearing them is not “acceptable”.

The bench noted that this implies that the government neither appoints the names nor communicates its reservations, if any.

“There are also 10 names pending with the government which have been reiterated by the Supreme Court collegium,” it said.

The apex court added that the cause of law and justice suffers as a result of judges not being appointed to the apex court and the high courts, as the Centre neither approved the names nor stated its reservations.

Justice Kaul said the court was not going to issue a contempt notice just yet and sought an explanation from the Centre on the issue of the delay in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts.

After hearing arguments in the matter, the top court issued a simple notice on the contempt petition.

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