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Centre charges courts for delay in filling vacancies

In a renewed SC proceeding on Wednesday, representing the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the process to fill up five-year, six-year-old vacancies have been started late
Supreme Court of India

Amid reports that the collegium of the Supreme Court has cleared the names of some judges despite adverse reports by intelligence agencies, the Centre has put the ball back in the court’s court stating that several high courts have “pretty much delayed” starting the process of filling the long-pending vacancies.

In a renewed SC proceeding on Wednesday, representing the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a Bench of Chief Justice (CJI) T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M.Khanwilkar that “there is no blame game. There is no logjam in the system. It’s like a race… if you start in time… you will reach in time. The High Courts, by and large, were pretty much delayed in starting the race. The process to fill up five-year, six-year-old vacancies have been started late.”

This follows on the heels of Narada News reporting a week back that the Supreme Court collegium has cleared pending names for appointment of some judicial officers who drew adverse comments from intelligence agencies.

On the issue of filling the vacancies, Rohatgi submitted to the SC Bench two sets of documents in sealed envelopes containing a compilation of facts and figures on the appointment and transfer of judges. The said “compilation of facts” contained those intelligence agencies’ “adverse reports” also was the buzz in the corridors of the Supreme Court.

After handing over those two sealed envelopes, the Attorney General told the Bench that the documents will indicate every aspect of different high courts, including that of the “oldest” High Court of Judicature in Allahabad.

This high court alone seems to top the list of most vacancies in India and Rohtagi told the court that there has been a delay of nine years in starting the process by the judiciary itself.

However, it is reliably learnt that the recommendations made by the collegium with regard to Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Allahabad high courts have been cleared.

In the earlier hearing, the apex court warned the Union of India that it would not “tolerate non-execution of collegium’s decision”. The Bench then posted the matter for further hearing on September 30.

The case is filed by a 1971 war veteran Lieutenant Colonel Anil Kabotra who cited the huge backlog of cases and vacancies in the judiciary and sought a direction to the authorities concerned in this regard. The PIL also seeks a direction to consider and implement the 245th report of the Law Commission on reforms in the judiciary and to increase judges’ strength and infrastructural facilities in the courts.

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