New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the government for "cherry-picking" from its recommendations for tribunals across the country.
A special bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao expressed unhappiness with the Government for the manner in which the recent appointments were made to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and Income Tax Appellate Tribunal(ITAT).
The government has been given two weeks to complete tribunal appointments with the Supreme Court sternly saying: "Return with the appointment letters."
"We are a democratic country. You have to follow the rule of law," Chief Justice NV Ramana said during the hearing.
"I have seen the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) appointments.... more recommendations were made. But in (the) appointments, cherry-picking was done. What kind of selection is this? And the same thing (has been) done with (the) ITAT (Income Tax Appellate Tribunal) members also. We are very unhappy with how the decisions are being taken," the Chief Justice said.
"I am also part of the NCLT Selection Committee. We interviewed 544 people... out of which we gave the names of 11 judicial members and 10 technical members. From all of these recommendations, only some of them were appointed by the government... rest of the names went to (the) waitlist," he added.
In a series of sharp remarks, the Chief Justice underscored that the government's approach "is very unfortunate". "We travelled throughout the country to conduct interviews. We wasted our time? We travelled in the midst of Covid because the government (had) requested us to carry out the interviews," he said.
To this, Attorney General KK Venugopal replied: "The government is entitled to not follow certain recommendations".
"What is the sanctity of the selection committee (whose composition includes Supreme Court Judges) if the government is going to have the last say?" Justice L Nageswara Rao asked.
Last week, the Supreme Court had rapped the government over a large number of vacancies in tribunals, or quasi-judicial bodies, across the country. Chief Justice NV Ramana said "we feel the government has no respect for this court" and warned, "you (the government) are testing our patience".
"Vacancies in critical tribunals like NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) and NCLAT (National Company Law Appellate Tribunal)... they are important for the economy. Vacancies also in armed forces and consumer tribunals are leading to delays in resolution of cases," the court said.