The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking the Centre’s response over the delay in finalising the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges, Live Law reported. Another bench had on October 27 agreed to hear the plea and issued a notice to the Centre for its response.
The petition, filed by advocate RP Luthra, had also asked why appointments were being made even though the Centre had not finalised the Memorandum of Procedure. However, last month’s bench had dismissed this part of the plea.
“These are not matters to be taken up on the judicial side and so we are dismissing the petition,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, disagreeing with the other two judges, Justice UU Lalit and Justice AK Goel, who had issued the notice to the Centre on October 27.
“You don’t know what all steps we have taken and we do not intend to say it here,” Misra told Luthra.
What’s the controversy about judicial appointments?
Problems first began when the Parliament, in April 2015, suspended the collegium system under which the judiciary appoints judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. It then proposed the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, which gave the government the power to appoint judges.
But the Supreme Court later quashed it as unconstitutional. The court then ruled that the existing collegium system would stay, but suggested changes to the Memorandum of Procedure.
In December 2015, the Supreme Court asked its collegium to make changes to the existing Memorandum of Procedure for judicial appointments. It took the collegium until March 2017 to finalise the new document because of differences between the executive and the judiciary. When it was done, the collegium forwarded it to the Centre for its approval.
This was seen as a big step towards filling up vacancies and increasing the number of judges. However, the Centre has not sent it back yet, which is what Luthra’s petition challenged.