SC slams Centre for delaying appointment of HC judges

The Supreme Court on Friday rapped the Centre for not appointing judges to various high courts despite recommendations made by the collegium in this regard.

"There should not be a deadlock in appointment of judges. You (Centre) cannot bring the institution to a grinding halt," the apex court said.

The court pulled up the Centre saying, "You have committed that process of appointment will continue without finalisation of Memorandum of Procedure. Finalisation of MoP has nothing to do with the ongoing appointment process in judiciary."

The apex court is particularly peeved at the pendency of 35 appointments it had cleared for the Allahabad High Court - the first batch of eight on 28 January and the second for appointment of 27 judges in August. Both are yet to be notified.

The Allahabad High Court is functioning with less than 50 per cent of its strength with just 77 judges against the approved strength of 160.

These appointments assume significance considering that the country's largest high court accounts for about 25 per cent of nearly 40 lakh cases pending in all 24 high courts and would have helped bring down vacancies from a high of 83 to 48, improving the bench strength to 112.

Annoyed by the inordinate delay in notifying appointments, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur had during the last hearing warned the government of passing an order and "fastening accountability" if the logjam continued, which he said stifled judicial work.

In the last week of September, the government notified appointment of at least 25 judges. The SC collegium is believed to have cleared more than 100 names for appointment to several high courts after scrapping the National Judicial Appointments Commission in October 2015.

In the first batch of recommendations sent to the government in January for the Allahabad High Court, the apex court collegium is believed to have recommended eight out of 19 advocates approved by the Allahabad High Court collegium and rejected 11.