It is regrettable that the judiciary and the Union government are not adhering to the timeline for appointing judges to High Courts and the Supreme Court, a Parliamentary panel has said, reported PTI on Sunday.
The statement came amid a renewed tussle between the government and the judiciary on the process of making judicial appointments in the country.
In its report tabled before Parliament on December 8, the standing committee on Law and Personnel said that the timeline for appointing judges has been drawn in the second judges case in 1993 in which the Supreme Court had devised the collegium system.
The panel, led by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sushil Kumar Modi, said that the judiciary and the government were not adhering to this timetable, causing delays in appointing judges.
It said that the government and the judiciary should come up with some “out-of-box thinking to deal with this perennial problem of vacancies”.
The panel said that data given by the government showed that there was 50% vacancy in the High Courts of Telangana, Patna and Delhi and 40% vacancy in 10 other High Courts as of December 31.
“These all are large states, where judge to population ratio is already skewed and such level of vacancies is a matter of deep concern,” it said.
Noting that the Supreme Court and the government are considering revising a Memorandum of Procedure for the appointment of judges, the panel said that it was surprised to see that they have failed to reach a consensus.
The committee said it expects the government and the judiciary to finalise the revised Memorandum of Procedure that is more efficient and transparent.
Judicial appointments row
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had told the Times Now news channel on November 26 that the collegium system is not in consonance with the Constitution. Two days later, the Supreme Court had objected to the statement.
On December 2, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar criticised the Supreme Court for striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act.
Dhankhar reiterated his criticism in the Rajya Sabha on December 7. A day later, the Supreme Court again weighed in on the debate, stating that the collegium system is the law of the land and must be adhered to.
In 2015, the Supreme Court had struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, deeming the law unconstitutional.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission proposed to make judicial appointments through a body comprising of the chief justice, two senior Supreme Court judges, the law minister and two other eminent persons nominated by the chief justice, the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition.