Committee for review of judges' recruitment

Committee for review of judges' recruitment

Collegium system responsible for pendency of cases

A parliamentary panel has asked the government to fast-track review of appointment of judges in high courts and the Supreme Court, holding the present collegium system responsible for vacancies and huge pendency of cases.

“The committee understands the helplessness of the ministry in filling the vacancies in high courts and the Supreme Court. The root cause of the present situation is the appointment of judges in the post-1998 period,” a parliamentary standing committee on personnel, grievances, law and justice said.

Now, a collegium comprising the chief justice of India and four senior-most judges in case of the Supreme Court and the chief justice and two senior-most judges in case of high courts recommend names.

The primacy given to the collegium system is based on an apex court judgment on October 6, 1996, in a case of SC Advocates on Record and others versus the Union of India and others and its opinion given on Presidential Reference on October 28, 1998.

Posts have remained vacant for want of adequate number of proposals from the judiciary, the government responded, adding that it has been periodically reminding chief justices of the high courts to initiate proposals well in time for existing vacancies as well as those anticipated in the next six months.

“It is generally felt that this procedure is not balanced and one-sided. It has, at times, been criticised also for lack of transparency and accountability,” the government said in response to the committee’s recommendation for “review and rehaul” of the appointment process.

“In committee’s view for prompt and timely disposal of cases both in civil and criminal is sine quo non for an orderly and law abiding society, and therefore, the government should take all possible steps to have adequate infrastructure for not only cleaning the backlog but also for disposal of cases on an ongoing basis,” it further observed in its 57 th report tabled in Parliament recently.

A National Judicial Commission for appointment of judges, first mooted in 1990 and again in 2003, could not materialise as the Constitution (Amendment) Bills moved on both occasions failed.

According to the law ministry, as many as 278 posts are lying vacant as against the sanctioned strength of 895 judges in 21 high courts across the country as on March 1. A total of 26 judges are working in the Supreme Court against the sanctioned strength of 31

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