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As on September 1, there are 398 vacancies across High Courts in India, informed Union Law Minister RS Prasad in a response made recently to Rajya Sabha member and DMK MP P Wilson.
In February this year, Wilson had raised the issue during the zero hour in the Rajya Sabha, pointing out that nearly one-third of sanctioned posts across High Courts were vacant and calling for the resolution of the stand off between the executive and the judiciary when it came to judicial appointments.
In this regard, he had also raised concern that there were about 213 pending collegium recommendations which the Centre was yet to sign off on at the time.
In a response made on September 28, Law Minister Prasad has stated that there is no standoff between the Executive and the Judiciary and that
"filling up vacancies of Judges in the High Courts is a continuous collaborative process between the executive and Judiciary as it requires consultation and approval of various constitutional authorities."
If there are any differences of opinion, they are mutually reconciled by the executive and the Judiciary to ensure that only apposite persons are appointed to the High court, Prasad has said.
He adds that a part of the reason why judicial vacancies keep rising is that the expected time-frame for recommending judges is rarely adhered to by High Court Chief Justices. In this regard, Prasad's letter states,
“While every effort is made to fill up the existing vacancies expeditiously, vacancies do keep on rising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of judges. As per the MoP, the Chief Justice the High Court is required to initiate the proposals for filling up of vacancies of Judges in the High Courts six months prior to the occurrence of vacancies but this timeline is rarely adhered to."
Prasad has further assured that the Government is committed to fill up the vacancies in High Courts expeditiously. He also informs that recently, as on September 1, the Centre has cleared the appointment of 48 new Judges across various High Courts.