There is no definite time-line set for the Centre to decide on collegium proposals: Supreme Court

There is no definite time-line set for the Centre to decide on collegium proposals: Supreme Court

Some recommendations are approved quickly, while others are kept pending for months, according to the Supreme Court, which recently heard a case filed against the Union Government for delaying approval of collegium proposals. Because there is no set timeline, the Centre's approvals for collegium proposals for Supreme Court elevation have come at a staggeringly varying pace. There have been reports of appointments being made within a few days of the collegium's recommendations. In addition, some proposals may remain pending for several months. This lack of consistency is best illustrated by looking at the timelines for some of the most recent Supreme Court appointments. There is no definite time-line set for the Centre to decide on collegium proposals, except in respect to names reiterated by the collegium as High Court judges, where there is a definite judicial direction to the Centre to make the appointment within 3-4 weeks.

The most recent Supreme Court appointment is Justice Dipankar Dutta, who was previously the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. In the resolution passed on September 26, the Supreme Court collegium proposed his elevation. The proposal, however, remained pending with the Union Government for nearly three months, and his appointment was announced on December 11, 2022. On May 5, the Supreme Court collegium also recommended the elevation of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and JB Pardiwala. On May 7, the Centre notified them of their appointments within two days.

The proposal for the elevation of Justice KM Joseph received the most delayed approval from the Centre in recent times. After much drama and controversy, his appointment was announced about seven months after the collegium resolution. On January 11, 2018, the Collegium forwarded his recommendation, along with the name of Justice Indu Malhotra. After more than three months of deliberation, the Centre returned Justice Joseph's name in April 2018, while approving Justice Malhotra's appointment. The bar reacted violently to this. The perception was that the Centre was opposing Justice Joseph's appointment because he had issued anti-establishment directives. The Collegium reiterated its proposal to elevate Justice Joseph in July 2018. The proposal was accepted by the Centre nearly a month later. However, the Centre's appointment order placed Justice Joseph below the other two first-time recommendees, complicating the seniority.

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