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MoP for judges’ hiring delayed

Published : Sep 27, 2017, 2:56 am IST
Updated : Sep 27, 2017, 2:57 am IST

In the subordinate judiciary, over 5,000 posts are vacant as against the sanctioned strength of 21,324.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: With the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the judiciary at loggerheads, the memorandum of procedure for appointment of judges is yet to be finalised.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, heading the apex court collegiums of judges, is expected to finalise the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to expedite the process filling up of vacancies in the high courts.

Though the Supreme Court had quashed the National Appointments Commission Law in October 2015 and asked the Centre to draft the memorandum of procedure in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the new MoP is yet to be put in place even after nearly two years.

In the absence of MoP, there is inordinate delay in filling the vacancies in the High courts as well as in the apex court. With 407 vacancies in 24 high courts and six vacancies in the Supreme Court, judiciary is facing an acute shortage of judges.

The number two judge in the apex court Justice J. Chelameswar had difference of opinion with the former CJIs — T.S. Thakur and J.S. Khehar — on certain issues and he did not participate in the collegium meetings for making recommendations for judges’ appointments. It is now upto Justice Misra to sort the differences out and get the MoP finalised at the earliest.

The MoP could not be finalised during the tenure of CJI T.S. Thakur and J.S. Khehar as differences still persist between the collegium headed by the CJI and the Union law ministry. According to sources, over 350 names of candidates for appointment of judges to various high courts are pending with the Centre for the last one year, with no immediate solution in sight to remove the crisis.  

Currently, there are 24 high courts in the country with a total sanctioned strength of 1,079, but has a working strength of only 672 judges thus leaving a shortfall of 407.

In the subordinate judiciary, over 5,000 posts are vacant as against the sanctioned strength of 21,324.

While sources in the judiciary blame the Centre for the delay, government sources maintained that the collegium itself had not been sticking to the methodology prescribed under the memorandum of procedure (MoP). However, sources refuted the delay on the part of judiciary and said from October 2015, after the collegium system was restored, the NDA government had so far cleared the appointments of only just 51 high court judges despite receiving 400 odd nominations from the collegium.

Sources said though the centre and the collegium had agreed on most of the issues, there is one contentious issue relating to veto power being sought by the government to reject name of a candidate if his/her credential is found to be against national interests. The collegium has agreed to for this clause but asked the government to give reasons in writing and final say on selection or rejection will continue to vest with collegium and not with the government. As the Centre is not willing to budge from its stated position, the logjam continues.

Tags: narendra modi, dipak misra, supreme court