The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Union law secretary asking the Centre to explain delay in the appointment of judges, Live Law reported.

A bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul pulled up the Centre over the delay while hearing a contempt petition filed last year by the Advocates Association Bengaluru against the Union law ministry not approving 11 names given by the top court’s collegium.

“This [the delay] implies that the government neither appoints the names nor communicates its reservations if any,” it said.

The judges noted that on several occasions the government had not made judicial appointments despite names being given by the Supreme Court collegium, PTI reported. The court questioned whether the government’s inaction was meant to compel those considered for the judges’ posts, to withdraw their consent.

The court said that after a collegium reiterates the names for the second time, the Centre has to issue an appointment order, Live Law reported.

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh appearing for the Supreme Court Bar Association said that five weeks have passed since the collegium recommended elevating Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta to the Supreme Court, but the Centre has not taken a decision on the matter.

Last year, the Supreme Court had issued guidelines underscoring the timeline to complete judicial appointments in the High Courts, PTI reported. It had also called for the Intelligence Bureau to submit its reports on judges within four to six weeks after their names are recommended by the collegium.

The Centre is expected to send the files to the Supreme Court within eight to 12 weeks after the Intelligence Bureau and state government submit their reports. The Union government is then expected to make the appointments immediately.

If the Centre is not sure about the candidate, it should inform the collegium of its reasons. If the collegium reiterates the recommendation unanimously, the appointment should be made within four weeks.