The Supreme Court on Tuesday noted that Collegium proposals to appoint nine High Court judges and transfer twenty-six are pending with the Central government. [The Advocates Association Bengaluru vs Barun Mitra & anr]
The list included a proposal to appoint the Chief Justice of a sensitive High Court, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said.
"26 transfers pending. What is pending is even the appointment of a Chief Justice at a sensitive High Court. Nine are pending without being returned, I have the data," Justice Kaul orally remarked.
The sensitive High Court that the apex court was referring to is likely to be the Manipur High Court. Justice Siddharth Mridul, who presently sits at the Delhi High Court, was recommended to be appointed as the Manipur High Court's Chief Justice on July 5.
The Supreme Court hinted at its disapproval over the delay in making this and other judge appointments today while hearing a plea filed by the Advocates Association Bengaluru over delays in appointing judges.
The Association had contended that the Central government's failure to process the names recommended by the Collegium for appointment was in direct contravention of the Second Judges case.
In November last year, the apex court had sought a response from the Union Law Secretary in the matter.
During the hearing today, advocate Prashant Bhushan highlighted that potential candidates were even withdrawing their names from candidature due to prolonged delays in appointments.
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar highlighted the adverse consequences of segregating names in the appointment process. He added that delays in the appointment of judges were not only detrimental to the legal profession but also embarrassing to the candidates involved.
In response, the Supreme Court indicated that it was withholding further comments since the Attorney General had requested a week's time to get instructions on the matter.
In November last year, the Supreme Court had also observed that the seniority of judges was being affected when the Central government adopted a policy of picking and choosing persons from the names recommended by the Collegium for judgeship.
The Court had further lamented that the delay in the process of appointment was resulting in the best of first-generation lawyers declining to be part of the bench.
Moreover, the Court had underscored that while the government can convey its objections to the recommendations made by the Collegium, it cannot simply hold back names without conveying any reservations.
Justice Kaul had also remarked that good people must join the bench and that the timeline for appointments must be adhered to unless there was an exceptional reason.