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Collegium Taking Time, Not Centre, Says CJI Says only 27 files with govt but at least 70-80 pending with collegium

February 23, 2019 06:03 AM


Collegium Taking Time, Not Centre, Says CJI
Says only 27 files with govt but at least 70-80 pending with collegium

New Delhi:

A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday gave a clean chit of sorts to the government on the alleged delays in clearing appointments to the top court and high courts, insisting that while only a few are pending with the government, many are with the collegium.

“I can tell you only 27 are pending with the government, but at least 70-80 are pending with the collegium," CJI Gogoi told NGO CPIL advocate Prashant Bhushan. “I must say that the government has been speedily clearing the files,” the CJI said. There have been recent instances in which files have been cleared in a day as in the case of Justice Sanjiv Khanna. The NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had filed a petition objecting to the undue delay on the part of the government in clearing judicial appointments.

In certain cases, files have been pending for over months, Bhushan argued in court. The CJI, who heads the five-judge collegium comprising the five senior-most judges of the court, insisted that only a few are with the government.

The CJI said that it was the collegium which hadn't been able to clear the pending proposals before it, adding that since collegium decisions are always by unanimity, the process takes time.

The recommendations for the appointment to high courts come from the high court collegium which comprise the three senior judges there. The suggestions go to the law ministry first and then come to the apex court collegiums for further vetting.

The CJI-led collegium also has to ensure that the names are above-board so that the government cannot reject it on ground that the names were suspect. Since there’s no limit within which the government has to clear these names, they usually take time. There have been calls in recent days to lay down a time limit to ensure that these files move on time. The government has often been accused of creating a logjam in appointments by sitting on files. CPIL's Bhushan argued that the court must lay down a six-week limit for this. The court will hear the petition again after six weeks

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