NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has drawn a timeline for the Centre to appoint judges in the High Courts across the country where the pendency of cases is high due to a shortage of judges.
In the SC order, the apex court urged the Centre to make appointments of judges soon after the Supreme Court collegium clears the names.
The bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said that the High Courts are in a crisis situation and that it regretted that the high courts have a shortage of around 40% judges with many of the larger High Courts working under 50% of their sanctioned strength.
"If the Government has any reservation over the Collegium recommendations, it should send back the names with specific reasons for reservations," the bench said.
"Once, the Supreme Court collegium reiterates the names, the Centre should make the appointment within 3-4 weeks of such reiteration," it added.
The Supreme Court further prescribed a judicially mandated timeline for the Union government to make the appointment of judges in the high courts, implying that the "promptness in this process is to facilitate the larger cause of dispensation of timely justice".
The SC timeline as follows:
1. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) should submit its report/inputs within 4 to 6 weeks from the date of recommendation of the High Court Collegium to the Central Government.
2. It would be desirable that the Central Government forward the file(s)/recommendations to the Supreme Court within 8 to 12 weeks from the date of receipt of views from the State Government and the report/input from the Intelligence Bureau.
3. It would be for the Government to thereafter proceed to make the appointment immediately on the aforesaid consideration and undoubtedly if Government has any reservations on the suitability or in the public interest, within the same period of time it may be sent back to the Supreme Court Collegium with the specific reasons for reservation recorded
If the Supreme Court Collegium after consideration of the aforesaid inputs still reiterates the recommendation(s) unanimously (Cl. 24.1), such appointment should be processed and appointment should be made within 3 to 4 weeks.
The Supreme Court on Monday had given the green signal to invoke the Article 224A of the Constitution that had been dormant for 58 years, which allows the high court chief justices to start appointing retired HC judges as ad hoc judges for two to five years if the HC faced pendency of a large number of cases.
The SC had also clarified that the appointment of ad hoc judges would not be against vacancies in the sanctioned strength of judges in an HC. Meanwhile, the top court said that the Article would be invoked by a High Court Chief Justice only under certain conditions.
This includes vacancies of a court exceeding 20% of the sanctioned strength, 10% of pending cases must be over five years old and the disposal rate must be lower than the filing rate of new cases.