Centre returns 20 files to SC Collegium regarding appointment of HC judges, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms


Face off between the Centre and the Supreme Court over appointment of judges continued on Monday with the government returning 20 files and expressing “strong reservations” about the names recommended by the Collegium.

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed anguish over the delay by the Centre in clearing the names recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary, saying it “effectively frustrates” the method of appointment.

Sources said out of the 20 cases, 11 were fresh recommendations and nine were reiterations made by the SC Collegium.

The government has returned all the names related to fresh appointments in various high courts on which it had “differences” with the Supreme Court Collegium, the sources said.

A bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka said a three-judge bench of the apex court had laid down the timelines within which the appointment process had to be completed. Those timelines, it said, have to be adhered to.

Justice Kaul observed that it appeared the government is unhappy with the fact that the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act did not pass the muster, but that cannot be a reason to not comply with the law of the land.

The apex court had in its 2015 verdict struck down the NJAC Act and the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014, leading to the revival of the Collegium system of existing judges appointing judges to constitutional courts.

During the hearing on Monday, the apex court told Attorney General R Venkataramani the ground reality is that the names recommended, including those reiterated by the apex court collegium, are not being cleared by the government.

“How does the system work?” the bench asked, adding, “Our anguish we have already expressed.”

“It appears to me, I would say, unhappiness of the Government of the fact that NJAC does not pass the muster,” Justice Kaul observed.

Justice Kaul said sometimes laws pass the muster and sometimes they don’t.

“That cannot be a reason not to comply with the law of the land,” he said.

The top court was hearing a plea alleging “willful disobedience” of the time frame laid down by the apex court in its April 20 order last year to facilitate timely appointment.


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