Supreme Court, Manipur, positive suggestions, Centre
"The reliefs which have been sought under Article 32 can well be pursued in appropriate proceedings before the high court under Article 226," the bench said. (Representational image)

Centre may soon clear names of five judges after SC nudge

The Centre has assured the Supreme Court that the Collegium’s pending recommendations for the elevation of five High Court judges to the apex court will be cleared soon and the warrant of their appointments may be issued by Sunday. A formal notification was likely to be issued very soon.

New judges may be sworn in on Feb 6

Those elevated to the apex court are Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal, Patna High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Manipur High Court Chief Justice PV Sanjay Kumar, Ahsanuddin Amanullah (Patna high court judge), and Manoj Misra (Allahabad high court judge).

The new judges may be sworn in on Monday by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud. With their appointment, the top court will have 32 out of its sanctioned strength of 34 judges. Incidentally, the collegium has also made the recommendation for the remaining two vacancies last week. These five names were pending with the government since December 13.

Also read: Collegium system row: Justice Nariman slams Law Minister Rijiju

Earlier, Attorney General (AG) R Venkataramani on Friday gave an assurance to the bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul that the appointments to the Supreme Court may be made “within 2-3 days”. He, however, added that it would not be proper to spell out for a timeframe for making these appointments in the judicial order.

‘No consistency in clearing names of judges’

Apparently making its displeasure obvious, the bench observed that there was no consistency in the time taken by the Centre to clear names of judges, which was creating “issues of faith” between the judiciary and the executive.

However, the apex court eventually accepted the AG’s request and refrained from specifying the timeline within which the appointments will be notified, but implored Venkataramani to ensure that it is done before the next hearing on February 13. “We are giving you 10 days. And we are taking your word that these appointments will happen soon. Please, make sure it is done,” the bench, which also comprised Justice AS Oka, told the AG.

The SC made these observations while it was hearing a contempt plea complaining against inordinate delay by the Centre in clearing names. The bench on Friday also took strong exception to the government delaying almost a dozen recommendations pertaining to the transfer of high court judges and appointment of a chief justice, making it clear that “any delay in transfers may result in administrative and judicial actions which may not be palatable”.

Also read: Collegium row: Rijiju shares retd HC judge’s interview to underline ‘sane’ view

No timeline can be fixed: Rijiju

Meanwhile, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday told Parliament that no timeline can be fixed for filling up of vacancies of the judges in the constitutional courts, as he flagged that several high courts across the country are in breach of the six-month deadline for making recommendations for anticipated vacancies.

Rijiju also informed the Upper House that the Centre returned 18 proposals to the Supreme Court Collegium pertaining to promotions of high court judges in the last three years.

The face-off

The executive and judiciary are engaged in a war of words for the last few months over the judges’ selection mechanism and the division of powers between the two. The tussle witnessed Rijiju and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar flaying the collegium system of appointing judges over concerns of transparency and assumption of authority by the Supreme Court through its judgments to appoint judges in the constitutional courts.

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