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Filling HC vacancies on war footing: Khehar

J.S. Khehar

J.S. Khehar  

Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said on Monday that the filling of judicial vacancies in the High Courts is progressing on a war footing.

Heading a three-judge Bench, the Chief Justice, however, said there was no move to increase the number of posts of High Court judges till all the existing judicial vacancies were filled. The sanctioned strength of judges across the 24 High Courts is 1,079. “We know that the strength has come down to half. But we are progressively filling all the vacancies,” he said.

The Chief Justice, for the first time, confirmed in open court that the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for the appointment of judges has been cleared by the Supreme Court Collegium.

The draft memorandum had been hanging fire for over the past year following the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) judgment in October 2015, which had quashed constitutional amendments giving the political class an equal role in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the government has received the finalised MoP from the Collegium.

Discussions on the MoP had, till recently, centred around the controversial clause of national security, with the government proposing that it wanted to retain the power to veto a judicial name recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium if the person was found to be a national threat.

Right to reiterate name

However, according to sources, the Collegium has reserved the right to reiterate a judicial name in case it is not satisfied with the government’s reasons for vetoing it. Disposing of a petition seeking to increase the number of judges to tide over the alarming pendency in subordinate courts and HCs, the Bench said that though there were “a large number of vacancies at various HCs, a rigorous process for filling the same is in place.”

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