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Appointment of HC Judges: Government forwards 78 names to Supreme Court Collegium


July 12, 2016

With the High Courts of the country functioning at around 55% of their total approved strength, the Centre has forwarded to the Supreme Court collegium names of 78 persons from State Judicial Services and the Bar, for appointment as Judges.

The recommendations made by various State collegiums have reportedly been forwarded to the Apex Court collegium in two sets of 57 and 21.

The judiciary-executive face-off

The current state of the judiciary-executive relationship was highlighted by Congress Party Spokesman Abhishek Singhvi recently. Mr. Singhvi claimed that the relationship has been in “tatters as never before”.

“Congress places this blame on the Government of India. Modi Government has unleashed several… innuendos, sarcasm, open criticism of court judgments,” Mr. Singhvi was quoted as saying.

Mr. Singhvi condemned the attempts by Government “to obstruct judicial appointments by the back door.” He claimed that this was being done by “stealth and covert obstruction” and by “using and abusing” the Memorandum of Procedure to send the message that “government and not the courts have right over judicial appointments.”

“Whether you agree or disagree with National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, once the Supreme Court has come out with a judgment overruling the Government, there has to be a quietus,” he added.

Mr. Singhvi’s comment comes in the backdrop of the Government’s recent direction to the Intelligence Bureau to carry out a “more stringent” background check on all names recommended for elevation by the collegium. Hence, elevations to the High Courts of Allahabad, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, and Chennai are being “scrutinized more carefully” so that nobody of questionable integrity is appointed. The Centre has also put on hold appointment of 44 Judges to the Allahabad High Court, referred to it by the High Court collegium in April.

Ever-mounting vacancies

As on July 1, 2016, Allahabad High Court had the largest number of vacancies, standing at 82. It is hence currently working at 50% of its approved strength. Besides, Chhattisgarh High Court is also working at less than 50% of its approved strength. Even though Punjab and Haryana High Court has the second largest approved strength, it is working at 54% of that strength.

Tripura and Sikkim High Courts are the only ones functioning with no vacancy.  Manipur and Meghalaya High Courts are functioning with 1 vacancy each.

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