In a recent development, the Supreme Court of India has raised significant questions regarding the Central government's delay in appointing two Sikh advocates, Harmeet Singh Grewal and Deepinder Singh Nalwa, as judges for the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia highlighted the government's apparent reluctance to approve these candidates, emphasizing the importance of avoiding past issues interfering with the current appointment process.
The Supreme Court Collegium recommended Grewal, Nalwa, and three other lawyers for appointment on October 17. However, on November 2, the Central government only notified the appointment of three lawyers from the recommended list, leaving the status of Grewal and Nalwa in limbo.
In a recent hearing, the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the government's "pick and choose" method in the transfer of judges. The court directed these concerns to Attorney General R Venkataramani, citing specific instances of pending transfers and non-transfers of judges from various regions.
The Attorney General attributed the delay to election-related issues but assured progress in the process concerning the reiterated names. However, the court countered this statement, expressing dissatisfaction with the slow pace of clearance, as not even 50 percent of the recommended names had been approved.
In its order, the court highlighted that out of the eleven remaining names recommended for transfer, only five have undergone the process, while six are still pending. Additionally, eight candidates from recently reiterated names have not been appointed, with the government not providing comments for five of them.
The court expressed concern over the prolonged delay in appointments, noting that senior candidates might find it challenging to join the bench given the extended process.
Responding to the court's concerns, the Attorney General assured that issues would be addressed, and the matter is scheduled for further hearing on December 5. The court addressed this matter based on a petition filed by the Advocates Association Bengaluru, which raised concerns about the Central government's delays contradicting the principles outlined in the Second Judges case.
In a previous hearing in November, the Supreme Court emphasized that the Central government should not impede the appointment of judges solely based on Collegium disapproval. The court asserted that when the Collegium rejects a name for judgeship, that decision should be final.
Furthermore, the court criticized the government's "pick and choose" approach in appointing judges, expressing concern that this practice disrupts established seniority among recommended candidates. The Supreme Court had sought a response from the Union Law Secretary in connection with this matter in November of the previous year, lamenting the adverse effects of the selective approach on the potential seniority of recommended candidates.
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