Centre – SC clash

Tension continues about who should have the final say in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High courts – the government or the Judiciary. The Supreme court collegium aided by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur has reiterated 43 names for appointment as High Court judges. The Centre has asked the collegium to re-consider the names on the ground that no uniform criteria were followed in the selection of the 43 names. The SC bench refused to budge. There is a now a 43% vacancy in the High Courts of India and the shortage of judges has led pending cases to pile up over the years. Justice is not merely delayed but also denied. The rot percolates down to the lower courts where a similar shortage of judges causes a huge number of cases to remain pending. This somewhat thorny relationship between the executive and the Judiciary got further embittered as the Supreme Court struck down the setting up of the national judicial appointments commission. Parliament had enacted legislation to put it in place. A memorandum of procedure (MOP) to streamline the collegiums functioning is yet to be finalized.

The NDA government can now sit on the 43 reiterated names till January as Chief Justice of India T.S Thakur retires on January 3. The other members of the collegium for appointment of judges are Justices A.R. Dave and J.S. Khehar. They are also retired or retiring. The Centre can wait for a major change in the composition of the three member collegium and can explain to it the grounds on which it had questioned the selection of 43 persons as High Court Judges. A top law ministry official has said that his Ministry will examine the 43 names. The SC has got the power to select persons for appointment of HC judges since the 1990s. a clash has occurred for the first time. It should end forthwith to foster democracy.

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