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High Courts crippled due to vacancies: Rajya Sabha MP, P Wilson urges Govt to clear pending Collegium recommendations within a reasonable time

Wilson highlighted that are around 213 names recommended for appointment as judges by the Supreme Court Collegium which are yet to be decided upon by the Central Government.

Meera Emmanuel

Senior Advocate and DMK Member of Parliament from Tamil Nadu, P Wilson has registered strong concern over the delay in making judicial appointments to High Courts during the zero hour at the Rajya Sabha today.

Shockingly, it has recently come to light that there are about 213 names recommended for appointment by the collegium of the Supreme Court, but the Government is simply sitting over these recommendations without getting the approval of the Hon’ble President for months together for reasons best known to it.
P Wilson

To explain the depth of the issue, Wilson pointed out that nearly 1/3rd of the sanctioned strength is lying vacant across High Courts in the country, with 401 vacancies out of 1079 sanctioned posts in 25 High Courts. Most High Courts are functioning with only 50% of their sanctioned strength Wilson said. Wilson also further spoke of the declining rate of judicial appointments over the years.

After NJAC case, the number of judges appointed to the High Courts has been steadily decreasing. In 2017, 115 judges were appointed, in 2018, 108 judges were appointed and in the year 2019, a mere 65 judges were appointed to the High Court. However, simultaneously, due to retirements and elevations, the vacancies continue to increase. Therefore, in my view, if this situation continues, the functioning of the High Courts throughout the country will be totally crippled, which does not benefit national interest.”

He remarked that the deficit in judicial strength would directly affect the administration of justice, while also asserting that,

The time has come for Parliament to resolve the standoff between the Executive and Judiciary in the deadlock in the appointment of High court judges to various High Courts with in a time limit…

The processing of these recommendations should happen within a clear, mandatory time frame. Sometimes the recommendations sent by Chief Justices of High Court are returned by the Central Government again and again without any valid reasons.”

In view of these concerns, Wilson has made an appeal to the Union Law Minister and the Cabinet that, a decision be taken on the pending 213 recommendations cleared by the Supreme Court Collegium within a reasonable time.

Further, he has also urged that the Memorandum of Procedure for judicial appointments be finalised so that there is a mandatory time frame for each stage of the appointment process.

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