A Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee On Personnel, Public Grievances, Law And Justice, headed by Member of Parliament (MP) Bhupender Yadav in its Ninety-ninth Report on Action Taken on Ninety-sixth Report of the Committee on Demands for Grants (2018-19) pertaining to the Ministry of Law and Justice presented in Parliament on January 3, 2019 has desired among other things, that timeline of six weeks given to Chief Minister/Governor for recommending proposal received from the Chief Justice of High Court for the appointment of judges be reduced to expedite the process of the appointment of judges. The Committee also notes that since there is no proposal to raise the retirement age of judges in higher judiciary by the Government, unnecessary delay in recruitment of judges should be avoided at any cost.
At present, as per the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), the initiation of proposal for appointment of Judges in the Supreme Court vests with the Chief Justice of India, while initiation of proposal for appointment of Judges in the High Courts vests with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court. As per the existing Memorandum of Procedure, the following timelines has been prescribed-
- Proposal to be initiated by Chief Justice of High Court: 6 months before occurrence of vacancy
- Chief Minister/ Governor to recommend proposal received from the Chief Justice of High Court: Within six weeks
- Chief Justice of India/Supreme Court Collegiums to recommend the proposal to MLJ: Within four weeks
- Recommendations of CJI to PM for advising the President for approval: Within three weeks
The Committee in its report notes that the timeline for initiation of the proposals for filling up of vacancies in High Courts is rarely adhered to by the High Courts. The Committee took note of the Supreme Court’s judgment dated February 23, 2018 in Sunil Samdaria vs Union of India wherein a two-judge bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan inter-alia taken note of undue delay in filling up of vacant posts of Judges expressed its strong displeasure over the delay in appointments of judges and directed all stakeholders including High Courts for filling up of vacant post in time bound manner.
The Supreme Court had noted “…what to talk of sending the names one month before the occurrence of an anticipated vacancy, names are not forwarded even much after the vacancy has occurred. It is also seen that once the names are forwarded, they remain pending at the Executive level for unduly long time, before they are sent to the Collegium of the Supreme Court for approval along with the inputs of the Executive. Even after the clearance of the names by the Collegium, these remain pending at the level of the Executive. All this results in inordinate delay. In the interest of all the stakeholders, including the judiciary, that definite timelines are drawn for each stage of the process, so that process of appointment is accomplished within a time bound manner. We need not say more. It is more so, to keep hope and aspiration of litigants alive and to fulfil the commitment of providing a speedy justice the process of appointment of Judges of the High Court needs more expedition at the hands of all who have to discharge the constitutional obligation entrusted by the Constitution of India.
The above mentioned committee finally observed: “The Committee is of the view that vacancy positions of judges need to be filled up immediately and the vacancies arising in future should be filled strictly as per the guidelines in the Second Judges Case and the directions of the Supreme Court of India in the Sunil Samdaria vs. Union of India (2018). The Committee feels that timeline of six weeks given to Chief Minister/ Governor as informed in the Action Taken Replies of the Ministry may be reduced to expedite the process of appointment of judges. The Committee also feels since there is no proposal to raise the retirement age of judges in higher judiciary by the Government, unnecessary delay in recruitment of judges should be avoided at any cost.”
Read the Report of Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee On Personnel, Public Grievances, Law And Justice