Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday indicated there was no delay on the part of the government in clearing files for appointment of judges to constitutional courts. If at all, the delay lay with the Supreme Court Collegium itself, headed by him.
“As the Chief Justice, I am telling you only 27 files are with the government, and 70 to 80 files are with the Collegium,” Chief Justice Gogoi observed orally.
‘Much quicker now’
“It is we who have not been able to clear the proposals for appointment of high court judges… Appointments are being done much quicker now,” Chief Justice Gogoi said.
The CJI’s remarks came in response to a petition filed by Centre for PIL, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan. The petition alleged that government was sitting on the recommendations of the Collegium on judicial appointments to the various high courts. As a result, the judicial vacancies and pendency in these high courts were going up.
The petition said the government has delayed its approval to names reiterated by the Collegium for appointment. It alleged the government’s inaction reflects a “breakdown of the consultative process” between the government and the CJI, through the Collegium, in judicial appointments.
“The picture that emerges reflects an extremely sorry state of affairs with regard to appointments and transfers of judges to the higher judiciary, thereby seriously eroding the independence of the judiciary and violating the Basic Structure of the Constitution,” the petition had alleged. But the CJI’s words, which indicate that there are more files with the Collegium than with the government, would act as a shot in the arm for the government. Undeterred, Mr. Bhushan submitted that according to his calculations, the government was sitting over nine recommendations reiterated by the Collegium.
The Bench decided to hear the petition in detail after six weeks.
In November last year, Chief Justice Gogoi had admitted to his “awe” at the “historic” speed with which the government cleared the path for the swearing in of Justices Hemant Gupta, R. Subhash Reddy, M.R. Shah and Ajay Rastogi as apex court judges. They had been sworn in within 48 hours of the Supreme Court Collegium recommending their names.