Supreme Court to get 5 judges son: Attorney General R Venkataramani informed SC

Supreme Court to get 5 judges son: Attorney General R Venkataramani informed SC

The Central Government would soon adopt the recommendations made by the Supreme Court collegium in December 2022 to elevate five justices from the High Court to the Supreme Court, the Attorney General of India, R. Venkataramani, informed the Supreme Court on January 3rd. 

The AG assured the Court that warrants of appointments for these judges would be given as soon as practicable and no later than five days after the Court asked about the status of the outstanding recommendations. 

The AG spent some time considering pending recommendations for appointments to the High Courts.

A bench made up of Justices S.K. Kaul and A.S. Oka was debating a contempt complaint brought by the Advocates Association Bengaluru in 2021 against the Centre for not approving 11 names recommended by the Supreme Court collegium. The Center was ordered by the Supreme Court in the matter of PLR Projects Ltd v. Mahanadi Coalfields Pvt Ltd to clear names repeated by the Collegium within 3 to 4 weeks, and the Association claimed that the Center's actions are a flagrant contempt for those orders. 

Bench is worried about the forthcoming transfer suggestions.

In today's session, the bench also expressed worry once more over the Center's ongoing demands for judicial transfers. We're genuinely concerned about this, Justice Kaul stated. The bench had previously noted that the transfer proposal approval delays give the impression of "third party interference."

"We have put to the AG that any delay in this(transfer proposals) may lead to both judicial and administrative actions which might not be palatable", the bench noted in the order.

The bench further informed the AG that a judge whose appointment as the Chief Justice of the High Court has been proposed will be leaving office in 19 days. The AG acknowledged being aware of this and assured that he would be in charge of the situation. 

Advocate Prashant Bhushan raised the matter of the Centre failing to appoint names that had previously been raised by the collegium during the hearing. Advocate Amit Pai repeatedly brought up how the "judiciary is being attacked" by government officials. 

The case will be discussed again on February 13.

The bench once again expressed concern in today's session on the Center's ongoing requests for judicial transfers. Justice Kaul said, "We're genuinely concerned about this." The bench had previously stated that it appears as though "third party influence" was taking place because of the delays in transfer proposal clearance.

The Central Government promised the Court on the last day of hearings that the timetables for judge appointments would be adhered to and that the pending collegium recommendations would be resolved quickly. 

The bench raised the issue of the Centre "breaking up collegium resolutions" as it interferes with the seniority of the recommendees while also raising the major concern that the delay in appointments "frustrates the overall system." 

The Court had given notice to the Secretary on November 11 after criticising the Center for postponing the appointments (Justice).

"Keeping names pending is not acceptable. We find the method of keeping the names on hold whether duly recommended or reiterated is becoming some sort of a device to compel these persons to withdraw their names as has happened.", the bench noted in the order.

The Bench observed that in the cases of 11 names which have been reiterated by the collegium, the Centre has kept the files pending, without giving either approval or returning them stating reservations, and such practice of withholding approval is "unacceptable".

"If we look at the position of pending cases for consideration, there are 11 cases pending with the Government which were cleared by the Collegium and yet are awaiting appointments. The oldest of them is of vintage 04.09.2021 as the date of dispatch and the last two on 13.09.2022. This implies that the Government neither appoints the persons and nor communicates its reservation, if any, on the names.", the Bench observed in the order.

Case Title: Advocates Association Bengaluru v. Barun Mitra And Anr. 
Citation: Contempt Petition (C) No. 867/2021 in TP(C) No. 2419/2019


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