SC slams Centre over delay in appointing high court judges

With the top court threatening to summon PMO secretary over this delay, the Centre sought time to clear more names by November 11.

SC slams Centre over delay in appointing high court judges

The Supreme Court on Friday slammed  the Centre for not appointing judges to various high courts despite recommendations made by Collegium.

The top court said: "There should not be a deadlock in appointment of judges. You (Centre) cannot bring the institution to a grinding halt."

So far, the Centre has cleared only 18 of 77 names recommended by the Collegium for posts of high court judges.

“In Karnataka HC, an entire floor of courts are locked because there are no judges. You want to lock justice out. For Allahabad HC, the Collegium recommended 18 names for judges, you chose eight. And now you want only two of the eight,” Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said.

"You have committed that process of appointment will continue without finalisation of Memorandum of Procedure. Finalisation of MoP has nothing to do with the ongoing appointment process in judiciary," the apex court said.

The apex court is particularly peeved at the pendency of 35 appointments it had cleared for the Allahabad High Court - the first batch of eight on January 28 and the second for appointment of 27 judges in August - both are yet to be notified.

The Allahabad High Court is functioning with less than 50 per cent of its strength with just 77 judges against the approved strength of 160.

According to media reports, these appointments assume significance considering that the country's largest High Court accounts for about 25 per cent of nearly 40 lakh cases pending in all 24 high courts and would have helped bring down vacancies from a high of 83 to 48, improving the bench strength to 112.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had during the last hearing warned the government of passing an order and "fastening accountability" if the logjam continued which, he said, stifled judicial work.

In the last week of September, the government notified appointment of at least 25 judges. The SC collegium is believed to have cleared more than 100 names for appointment to several high courts after scrapping the National Judicial Appointments Commission in October 2015.