THE Supreme Court Tuesday asserted its primacy in the appointment of judges to the high courts and the apex court, with a bench led by CJI SA Bobde directing the Centre to notify appointments within three to four weeks after the Collegium reiterates its recommendations.
The high courts are in a crisis, the court said.
“There are almost 40% vacancies in the high courts, with many of the larger high courts working under 50% of their sanctioned strength”, it said, while laying down timelines to be followed to facilitate the timely appointment of the judges to the higher judiciary.
The court took note of the fact that the Collegium’s recommendations had been pending with the government for a considerable period of time.
The bench which also had Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant laid down the timelines as follows-
- The Intelligence Bureau (IB) should submit its report/inputs within 4 to 6 weeks from the date of recommendation of the High Court Collegium, to the Central Government.
- It would be desirable that the Central Government forward the file(s)/recommendations to the Supreme Court within 8 to 12 weeks from the date of receipt of views from the State Government and the report/input from the IB
- It would be for the Government to thereafter proceed to make the appointment immediately on the aforesaid consideration and undoubtedly if Government has any reservations on suitability or in public interest, within the same period of time it may be sent back to the Supreme Court Collegium with the specific reasons for reservation recorded.
- If the Supreme Court Collegium after consideration of the aforesaid inputs still reiterates the recommendation(s) unanimously (Cl. 24.1), such appointment should be processed and appointment should be made within 3 to 4 weeks.
The court said it was conscious that the said exercise is collaborative in nature and it would expect promptness in this process to facilitate the larger cause of dispensation of timely justice.