New Delhi: The Supreme Court has revealed that the Central government had returned 22 names recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges. The court said that even names that were sent again have been returned.
The apex court also expressed its concern over the Centre delaying decisions over the recommendation for the transfer of judges. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who was on the Bench that considered the case, said that delaying transfers might create the impression of external interference in the issue. The court was provoked by the delay in taking decisions on the recommendation for the transfer of 10 judges. The court said that transfers are made for administrative convenience. There is no need to delay the matter. The recommendations for transfer were made after conducting extensive consultations with the High Court judges who are being transferred and the Chief Justices of the High Courts.
The court also revealed that the Centre had submitted to it some of the names recommended by High Court collegiums for appointment as judges but which were rejected by the Supreme Court.
The Bench, which included Justice Abhay S Oka, recommended that the collegium should take a decision on what could be done on the issue of the Centre returning names.
Although Friday’s developments were a reflection of the ongoing confrontation between the government and the court over the recommendations of the collegium, the Central government took a conciliatory attitude. Attorney General R Venkatramani gave the assurance that the time-frame given by the court would be adhered to and that a decision would be taken soon on the remaining recommendations also. He would oversee the process personally in this matter, he promised.
A decision may be made today itself on the recommendation of names for appointment of 44 persons as High Court judges. The Attorney General said that a decision on the rest of the names too would be made without delay. Decisions have to be made on 104 recommendations made to the Centre.
Although the court enquired about the 5 names recommended in December last for appointment as Supreme Court judges, the Attorney General requested that the matter should be postponed for consideration later. Though the court agreed to the request, it directed that more time should not be taken for the matter. The court also reminded that many of those on the list of 5 names were Chief Justices or senior judges of High Courts.
Though the maximum number of judges in the Supreme Court is 34, at present there are only 27 judges in the court.
The petition was adjourned till February 3 for the next hearing.
‘Returning’ has become the norm
Senior lawyer Prasanth Bushan pointed out during his arguments that it had become the norm for the government to return a name after waiting till the members of the collegium that recommended it change.
He argued that a decision on the names sent again by the collegium could not be kept in abeyance indefinitely. Justice Kaul agreed with this. The court reiterated yesterday that many brilliant persons were declining to become judges because of the delay in appointments.