Asserting that there is “no blame game” or “logjam” in appointments and transfer of judges for higher judiciary, the Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the high courts have “pretty much delayed” starting the process.
“There is no blame game. There is no logjam in the system. It’s like a race, if you start in time, you will reach in time. The High Courts, by and large, were pretty much delayed in starting the race. The process to fill up five year, six year old vacancies have been started late,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur.
He assured bench that “there is progress in the appointments and have the (hearing of the) matter after two weeks. We will see more progress.”
Central government’s top law officer placed before the bench, which also comprised Justice AM Khanwilkar, two sets of documents in sealed envelopes containing a compilation of facts and figures on the appointment and transfer of judges.
Rohatgi told the bench that the documents will indicate every aspect of different high courts including that of the oldest Allahabad High Court where the vacancies are “alarming” and there has been a delay of nine years in starting the process by the judiciary.
He further added that there was no “blame game” over the issue and said the recommendations made by the collegium with regard to Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Allahabad High Courts have been “cleared”.
Responding to the AG’s submissions, the bench said “it is an arduous process after which the recommendations come to us. Once we start the process, there should not be delay or it should be stalled. It has to move forward.”
During the brief hearing, the CJI referred to his visit to Chattishgarh High Court and said there were only eight judges working there and the vacancy was more than one-third. Rohatgi responded by saying that all the three names pertaining to the Chhattisgarh High Court have been cleared.
The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on September 30.
Today’s hearing came nearly a month after it had sent a stern message to the Centre over non-execution of collegium’s decision to transfer and appoint Chief Justices and judges in High Courts.
During the course of earlier hearings, the bench had said that if the Government had reservation against any names, then it can always come back to the collegium.