Wed, 08 Feb 2023

New Delhi [India], December 8 (ANI): Minister of Law Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said that there is no such proposal to reintroduce the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) with suitable modifications.

While responding to the several questions raised by politicians Mallikarjun Kharge and Dr John Bittas in Parliament, Law and Justice Minister said, the appointment of the Judges of the Constitutional Courts is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process between the Executive and the Judiciary.

Rijiju also said that the appointments of judges require consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities both at the state and central levels. Government appoints only those persons as Judges of High Courts who are recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium.

Giving the details, Rijiju said, "As on December 5, 2022, there is one proposal for the appointment of a Supreme Court Judge and eight proposals for the appointment of the High Court's Judges recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium are pending with the Government.""Further, there are eleven proposals for the transfer of High Court Judges, one proposal for the transfer of a Chief Justice and one proposal for the appointment of the Chief Justice of a High Court recommended by the Supreme Court under consideration of the Government," he said.

Rijiju also said that a total of 256 proposals have been remitted by the Government to the High Courts.

"During the last five years, a total of 256 proposals have been remitted by the Government to the High Courts. The proposals are remitted to the concerned High Courts on the advice of the Supreme Court Collegium," he added.

On the question of the number of vacancies as of the date in the Supreme Court and High Court, the Law minister stated that as on December 5 against the sanctioned strength of 34 Judges, 27 Judges are working in the Supreme Court leaving seven vacancies.

"In the High Courts, against the sanctioned strength of 1108, 778 Judges are working leaving 330 vacancies," he added.

The Law minister also briefly shared the details of proposals recommended by the High Courts and pending with the Government of India and the Supreme Court Collegium. According to data shared by Allahabad High Court (30), Andhra Pradesh HC (03), Bombay HC (16), Calcutta HC (04), Chhattisgarh High court (04), Delhi High Court (01), Gujarat HC (11), Gauhati High Court (01), Karnataka HC (11), Kerala HC (02), Madhya Pradesh High Court (12), Madras HC (18), Manipur HC (02), Meghalaya HC (01), Orissa HC (01), Patna HC (02), Punjab and Haryana High Court (01), Rajasthan HC (18), Telangana HC (03), Uttarakhand HC (05) proposals recommended by the High Court Collegiums are at various stages of processing with the Government and the Supreme Court Collegium, said the Law Ministry.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court of India criticized Centre Government over the judicial appointment issue and remarked that parliament has the right to enact a new law but at the same time they have to adhere to existing legal positions.

A bench led by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on Thursday said that it expects the Attorney General to play the role of the senior most law officer to advise the Government on the existing legal position.

The court also said the government cannot conveniently cite the views of some judges on MoP to oppose Collegium recommendations. SC said that parliament has the right to enact a law but it is subject to the scrutiny of the courts and it is important that the law laid down by this court is followed by people who would follow the law which they think is correct.

The court observation came while hearing a plea against the Centre for keeping the name Collegium recommended names of judges for their appointment in the various High courts and Supreme Court pending.

The court also took note of the Centre's recent decision to send back a second time reiterated names and said it is a breach of its earlier direction. The court said that it is not aware of the special circumstance for which this name was droppedThe court also told the Attorney General to advise Union Ministers to exercise some control over their public criticism about the Collegium and said that the statements made recently are not being taken very well and the ministers ought to exercise some control.

The court remarked that it has told the Attorney General that the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) is final till govt suggestions are looked into, MoP as finalised has to apply.

The court also cited the earlier Constitution bench decision of the top court upholding the Collegium system and said that the Government is bound to implement and enforce the law as laid down.

The court opined that there will be a breakdown if everyone starts choosing what to follow.

The Supreme Court said that there is an existing MOP and the govt thinks some alterations are required but that does not take away from the existing legal process.

Observing that it looks just like a blame game, the court noted that years after the name for the judicial appointment was returned which Collegium again reiterated.

SC said, "How do we sort out these issues? This is some kind of an infinite battle. AG, you will have to do a little better to sort out this".

In the last hearing, the Court had also expressed its disappointment with the statement given by the Law Minister on a news channel.

In 2014, the National Democratic Alliance government brought the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act in an attempt to change the system of appointment of judges.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar recently passed a certain remark on the 99th Constitutional Amendment Bill paving way for the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) which was undone by the Supreme Court in 2015. (ANI)

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