The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday it will "shortly" issue a notification for the appointment of the chief justice of the Manipur High Court, more than three months after the apex court collegium recommended Delhi High Court judge Siddharth Mridul for the post.
In a note submitted to the bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, the Centre said the files regarding the transfer of 14 high court judges have been cleared and the remaining 12 are under process.
The apex court was hearing two pleas, including the one alleging delay by the Centre in clearing the names recommended by the collegium for appointment and transfer of judges.
The top court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud had on July 5 recommended the appointment of Delhi High Court judge Justice Siddharth Mridul as the chief justice of the Manipur High Court, amid the ethnic turmoil in the border state.
Also Read: Manipur violence: Government imposes stricter regulations to prevent unauthorized renaming amid law and order crisis
During the hearing on Monday, the bench referred to some "positive developments" and noted that a large number of recommendations by high courts, hitherto pending with the law ministry and not forwarded to the Supreme Court collegium, have finally been forwarded. It said the SC collegium will now elicit the views of consultee judges on the recommendations made by high courts. The processing will be done at the earliest, the bench said.
After high court collegiums have made their recommendations for the appointment of judges, the list is sent to the Union Law Ministry, which forwards it to the apex court. The top court then consults SC judges who have been elevated from the respective high courts about the names suggested by HC collegiums before sending its final recommendation to the law ministry. On the issue of the transfer of 26 high court judges, the bench noted, it is stated that "the files in 14 cases have been cleared and notifications will be issued shortly. With respect to the remaining 12, it is stated to be under process".
"As far as the appointment of a chief justice of a High Court which is pending for considerable time, that too for a sensitive state, it is submitted that the file has been cleared and notification will be issued shortly," it said. "By the next date, I want this to be done. I am being very, very polite, let me be polite," Justice Kaul observed.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on October 20. The appointment of judges through the collegium system has often become a major flashpoint between the Supreme Court and the Centre, with the mechanism drawing criticism from different quarters. While hearing the matter on September 26, the apex court had voiced dismay over the "delay" in the appointment of judges and asked Attorney General R Venkataramani to use his good offices to resolve the issue. "There were 80 recommendations pending until last week when 10 names were cleared.
Now, the figure is 70, of which 26 recommendations are of transfer of judges, seven are reiterations, nine are pending without being returned to the collegium and one case is of appointment of the Chief Justice to a sensitive high court," the bench had said. All these recommendations have been pending since November last year, it said. The attorney general had sought a week's time to come back with instructions on the pending recommendations for appointment to the high courts.
The top court was hearing the petitions, including the one filed by the Advocates Association Bengaluru seeking contempt action against the Union Ministry of Law and Justice for allegedly not adhering to the timeline set by the court in a 2021 judgement.
On February 13, the top court had told the Centre to make sure that "most of what is expected is done" on issues concerning the appointment and transfer of judges as recommended by the apex court collegium.
One of the pleas in the apex court has alleged "wilful disobedience" of the timeframe laid down in its April 20, 2021 order to facilitate the timely appointment of judges.
In that order, the apex court had said the Centre should appoint judges within three weeks if the collegium reiterates its recommendations unanimously.
Copyright©2024 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today