Judicial Appointment : Delays – UPSC GS2

  • SC : The government is inordinately delaying the appointment of judges to High Courts.
  • At a time when judicial vacancies in the 24 High Courts remain at an all-time high, the government keeps names forwarded by the judiciary pending for an “unduly long time.”
  • There are a total of 403 judicial vacancies in the High Courts.
  • SC asked the Centre if there was a timeline for government clearance of such recommendations.
  • Supreme Court had conveyed its alarm at the rising number of judicial vacancies in various High Courts.
    • On average, the courts suffer at least 40% vacancies.
    • Some of them were functioning only with half their sanctioned strength.
Government’s Response:
  • As per Attorney-General the government’s delay was largely because it thoroughly combed through the antecedents of the candidate. The process, on an average, took at least 127 days.
  • He pointed out that the judiciary took 119 days on an average merely to forward the file to the government.
HCs fault:
  • Instead of sending the fresh names to the government for vetting a month prior to an anticipated judicial vacancy, the names are sent late or not sent at all.
  • In case the fresh names are sent to the government, the files are kept pending at the Executive level for long before they are sent to the Supreme Court Collegium for approval along with the government’s inputs on the names proposed.
  • Even after the clearance of the names by the Collegium, these remain pending at the level of the Executive. All this results in inordinate delay. Sometimes, it takes more than one year to complete the process from the date of forwarding the names till appointment.
  • As a result, the careers and tenures of future High Court judges recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium are invariably cut short because of the delay.

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