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Centre seeks dismissal of pleas on Judges’ appointment

NEW DELHI, Jan 30:
Government today sought the dismissal of a batch of petitions on judicial reforms, including appointments of judges in High Courts and Supreme Court, saying there should not be parallel proceedings when the matter is being dealt in the administrative side.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana said the matters have come up before it for the first time and the court would consider them after one month.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, said the matters are being dealt at the administrative side and they should not be taken up on the judicial side.
He said the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges have not been finalised in the last six months.
Rohatgi also said the Government has been filing status reports as sought by the SC at different points of time.
The apex court then deferred the hearing on several petitions on the issues for a month.
On January 2, the apex court had questioned the Centre why judges and chief justices of high courts were not being transfered despite the recommendations of the collegium and asked it to file a status report on such pending transfers with detailed reasons.
Former Chief Justice T S Thakur had asked the AG to return to the collegium for reconsideration instead of sitting over the recommendation, as it gave rise to “speculation and misgivings” due to continuance of judges in the same high courts despite being transferred.
The apex court had on November 18 last year said it had not accepted the Centre’s stand of rejecting the 43 names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for their appointment as judges of the various high courts and most of the names have been sent back for reconsideration.
The Centre had told the court that it had cleared 34 names out of the 77 recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges in various high courts in the country.
Rohatgi, on November 11, had told the court that the Centre had already sent the fresh draft of the Memorandum of Procedure for consideration of the collegium on August 3 last year, but so far no response has been received by the government. The apex court had earlier rapped the Government for delay in appointments to higher judiciary despite recommendations by the collegium in this regard and said the entire institution cannot be brought to a grinding halt.
Maintaining that the appointment process “cannot be stalled” due to non-finalisation of the MoP, the court had criticised the tardy progress in processing files pertaining to judges’ appointment and even warned that it may summon the secretaries of the PMO and the Ministry of Law and Justice to ascertain the factual position.
The Attorney General had said that non-finalisation of the MoP was one of the issues and assured the bench that more progress will be seen in the near future on the appointment of judges.
The apex court had said it would not tolerate “logjam in judges’ appointment” and would intervene to “fasten accountability as the justice delivery system is collapsing”.
The bench had said that if the government had reservation about any name, it could always come back to the collegium. (PTI)

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