The Supreme Court on Friday sidestepped any blame on Union government on delay in appointment of judges, saying most of the recommendations were pending with the Collegium and CJI would decide upon it.
The top court refused to issue any direction to the Centre on a plea for acting promptly on Collegium recommendation for appointment of judges.
“Whatever is pending is pending before us only. Appointments are already happening. Nothing is pending with the government,” a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said.
“There are about 27 recommendations pending before the government and there are 70 to 80 pending before the Collegium, as the CJI, I am telling you,” the CJI told advocate Prashant Bhushan.
Bhushan, for his part, said as per his knowledge, there were several recommendations pending before the government despite the reiteration by the Collegium.
The court put the PIL filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation for consideration after six weeks.
The NGO sought a direction to the government to immediately notify all recommendations for appointment of judges by the Collegium that have been pending beyond six weeks with the government without a response.
“Timely judicial appointments that ensure the smooth functioning of the courts are essential to maintain public confidence in the judiciary. Government cannot be allowed to silently veto the established process for judicial appointments,” it said.
“The government cannot frustrate the appointment process in an oblique way by sitting on the Collegium's recommendations and not responding to the names that the have been reiterated,” it said.
The petition filed in July, 2018 had cited cases several instances including of then chief justice of Uttarakhand HC K M Joseph (elevated to the SC), among others.