CJI-led bench scuttles move by two-bench to examine delay in finalisation of MoP

CJI-led bench scuttles move by two-bench to examine delay in finalisation of MoP

Ashish Tripathi NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court bench presided over by Chief Justice of India on Wednesday scuttled a move by a two-judge bench to examine "indefinite delay" in finalisation of Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges in the apex court and the High Courts.

The top court also closed a bid by the same two-judge bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit to consider if there could be alternative fora, other than High Courts, to decide criminal appeals as in several cases convicts languished in jails beyond 10 years time and the HC was not able to take up their cases in violation of fundamental right to speedy trial.

The Memorandum of Procedure has remained pending since Constitution bench decision on December 16, 2016 in view of tug-of-war between the judiciary and the Union government over certain clauses like rejection of candidates on national security, widening zone of consultation, complaint disposal mechanism etc.

Taking up the case filed by advocate R P Luthra, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri and Amitava Roy said, "There was no necessity to pass any interim order in view of the Constitution bench decision. These are not matters to be taken on judicial side. That's all."

The CJI-led bench recalled the order passed by a bench of Justices Goel and Lalit on October 27 and dismissed his petition, even though loud protest was made by Luthra. He kept on repeating, "I am being condemned without being heard."

Senior advocate K V Vishwanathan, who was appointed as amicus curiae by the two judge bench, submitted that there was a feeling that there was long delay in finalisation of MoP that should be avoided. "Pendency of cases is shocking and all the more shocking is the number of vacancies of judges," he said.

The bench, however, shot back, "Don't make speech. These issues can't be debated here".

On October 27, the two-judge bench had said that there should be no further delay in finalization of MoP in larger public interest as more than one year and ten months have already gone by since the decision by the Constitution bench for finalisation of fresh guidelines by the Union government in consultation with the CJI. The court had then expressed concern that many High Courts, including of Karnataka, were having only acting chief justice, though such an arrangement should not exceed beyond one month's time. It had issued notice to Attorney General K K Venugopal, seeking his response.

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