Collegium Row: Govt sends back 20 names recommended for HC judges
Of the 20 cases, 11 were fresh and nine were reiterations made by the top court collegium.
The government has "referred back" 20 names recommended for appointment as high court judges to the Supreme Court Collegium, Parliament was informed on Thursday.
Minister of State for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju said as on December 9, against the sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges, 777 were working in the 25 high courts, leaving a vacancy of 331 (30 per cent).
"Against 331 vacancies at present, 147 proposals received from various high courts were at various stages of processing between the government and the Supreme Court Collegium," he said in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
Further recommendations from high court collegiums are yet to be received in respect of 184 vacancies, the minister pointed out.
On November 29, PTI had reported that the government had asked the Supreme Court Collegium to reconsider 20 files related to the appointment of high court judges, including that of advocate Saurabh Kirpal who has candidly spoken about his gay identity.
The government had expressed "strong reservations" about the recommended names as it sent back the files to the collegium on November 25, sources aware of the procedure to appoint Supreme Court and high court judges had said.
Of the 20 cases, 11 were fresh and nine were reiterations made by the top court collegium, they had said.
Rijiju said in 2022, till December 9, the government has appointed a "record number" of 165 judges in various high courts, which is the "highest in a calendar year so far".
"The government took many steps to reduce pendency of cases, but the government has a very limited role in filling vacancies of judges. The collegium chooses names, and apart from that, the government has no right to appoint judges. Unless the procedure of the appointment of judges changes, the issue of high judicial vacancies will keep cropping up," said the Law Minister, as he held the Collegium system accountable for the large pendency of cases across the country.
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