Direct Centre to Notify Appointments Reiterated By the Collegium or Pending With It for More Than 6 Weeks

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A petition was filed on July 30 seeking a direction to the Centre to immediately notify all recommendations for appointment of judges that have been sent it by the Supreme Court Collegium. The petition filed by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) through advocate Prashant Bhushan also sought notification of appointment of those whose recommendations have been pending with the government for more than six weeks.

The Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) has approached the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to notify appointment of those whose candidature for a judgeship has been reiterated by the collegium. The petition, filed through Advocate Prashant Bhushan, drawn by Advocate Cheryl D’souza and settled by Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, also seeks notification of appointment of those whose recommendations has been pending with the government for more than six weeks.

The Centre’s act of not notifying the names that have either been recommended more than six weeks back or have already been reiterated by the collegium is violative of the Supreme Court verdict, stated the PIL. The petition contended that it has been settled by the top court that if the Supreme Court Collegium sends its recommendations to the Centre, the government may send the name back for reconsideration by the Collegium. However, if the collegium reiterates its recommendation unanimously, the President is bound to issue the warrant of appointment.

“The facts not only show complete disregard of the law so declared by this curt but also a virtual breakdown of the consultative process thereby diminishing if not destroying the primacy of the Chief Justice of India with regard to an appointment in the manner laid down in the judgment. The picture that emerges reflects an extremely sorry state of affairs with regard to appointments and transfers of judges to the higher Judiciary thereby seriously eroding the Independence of the Judiciary and violating the Basic Structure of the Constitution,” added the plea.

The petition also points out that the second judges’ case had held that the government must convey its opinion on a recommendation to the collegium within a period of six weeks from the receipt of such recommendation. Relying on the LiveLaw report, it then submits, “It has been reported in livelaw.in, this indefinite sitting over the files sent by the collegium has been choking the judicial system. Despite the large number of judicial vacancies and the huge pendency of cases in the various High Courts, the government is arbitrarily delaying the appointment process. The LiveLaw report states that “a staggeringly high number of more than 143 names are pending for judicial appointments. Most of such names are pending at the government level, after clearance by the Supreme Court Collegium.”

Thereafter, highlighting the growing vacancies and pendency of cases, it submits that the “stonewalling of judicial appointments by the executive for oblique and vested interests, amounts to interference in the due process of law and the independence and integrity of the judiciary”.

The government’s inaction in notifying such appointments, it asserts, infringes on the independence of the judiciary and thus, violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution. It finally demands, “Thus executive interference and in this case non-performance of its mandate in the judicial appointment process, has led to a virtual stalemate in the process of appointments to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and various High Courts. This trend has resulted in a serious negation of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The petitioner thus prays for a direction from this Hon’ble Court to the government, to notify the appointments to the High Courts and this Hon’ble Court, which have already been reiterated by the collegium, as well as the appointments of those names, which have been lying before the government without any response for more than 6 weeks since recommendations were received from the Collegium.”

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