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SC Warns Centre Against Delay, Selective Appointments of Judges

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to stop the selective ‘pick and choose’ approach in appointments to the top court, high courts and transfers between high courts, warning it of of “an unpalatable order” if the delay and selectivity continue while making appointments recommended by the SC collegium.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia expressed great concern against the delay by the Centre in clearing names proposed or reiterated by the Collegium for appointment to the Supreme Court and high courts, or transfer between high courts.

Citing a recent example, Justice Kaul said that even when the SC collegium had recommended the elevation of five advocates as the Punjab and Haryana High Court judges, the Centre skipped first two and cleared the remaining three.

He added that this trend was reflected in several other appointments made by the Centre which disturbs inter-se seniority.

“This pick-and-choose must stop,” Justice Kaul told Attorney General R. Venkataramani .

He further told the AG that this must not be taken as an off-hand remark as he has discussed this with the collegium.

While passing the order, the bench warned the AG that it might pass orders that may not be “palatable” on the judicial side if the problem is not taken care of by the Centre.

It also said in its order that 14 names are pending with the Centre and five names are pending despite the reiteration by the collegium.

Dictating the order the bench said: “We have expressed our concerns to the AG over the lack of progress since the last date. Pendency of transfer matter is an issue of great concern as it is being selectively done…AG submits that the issue is being taken up by him with the government.

“There are 14 pending recommendations to which there has been no response. In recommendations made recently, selective appointments have been made…This is hardly conducive to persuading successful lawyers to join the bench.”

Justice Kaul asked the government to show some progress on the issue of transfers and selective appointments as the delays create huge anomalies in the system.

The court was hearing a plea seeking contempt action against the Centre over delays in notifying the appointment of judges after recommendations were forwarded by the Collegium. On October 20, the top court said that it will have to “unstuck” the Collegium recommendations stuck with the Centre for appointment of judges.

The case is listed for further hearing on November 20.

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