Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Saturday criticised the Centre for not taking measures to clear judicial appointments and provide facilities and infrastructure to tribunals. Thakur said there were 500 vacant posts in high courts around the country and that no retired Supreme Court judge wanted to become the head of a tribunal, ANI reported.

While the judiciary was not opposed to the formation of tribunals, the lack of infrastructure is a major hindrance when it comes to filling up the posts, Thakur said while addressing an All India Conference of Central Administrative Tribunals. “I am pained to send my retired colleagues there [to a tribunal],” he said. The government was “not ready” to provide infrastructure and facilities to ensure their smooth operation, he added.

However, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad disagreed with Thakur’s remarks, saying that the Centre had made 120 judicial appointments in 2016. “Since 1990, there have been only 80 appointments,” Prasad said. There were also 5,000 vacancies in the “lower judiciary” and the government had no role to play in filling those posts, Prasad said. “That is something only for the judiciary to take care.” The government was also yet to hear from the Supreme Court on the Memorandum of Procedure to appoint judges, the law minister added.

On November 18, the Supreme Court had refused to accept the Centre’s decision to reject 43 names put forward for high court appointments by the collegium of judges. A bench of the apex court comprising Justice Thakur and Justice AR Dave sent the names recommended by the collegium back to the government for reconsideration.

The court had directed the Centre to prepare the memorandum in consultation with the chief justice following its ruling against the establishment of the National Judicial Appointments Commission in October 2015. The collegium system of appointing judges is one by which the judiciary appoints the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts of India. It came into force in 1993, but was ousted by the Parliament in April 2015. The apex court has said that it is open to bringing in more transparency in the system of appointing judges.