Citing that it has no jurisdiction over the long vacations in the courts, the Central government said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that there was no harm in talking to the judiciary, but the entire matter was in the hands of the courts.
Minister of state Law & Justice Prof S.P.S. Baghel said in the reply during the question hour after the issue was raised by Congress MP Rajeev Shukla.
Congress MP Vivek Tankha suggested that the courts should be consulted on the matter.
Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha informed that the government has recently referred back 20 names to the Supreme Court Collegium recommended for appointment as High Court judges.
The reply said that against the sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges, 777 were working in the high courts, leaving a vacancy of 331 (30 per cent) to be filled. Against 331 vacancies, at present, 147 proposals received from the high courts were at various stages of processing between the government and the Supreme Court Collegium.
“Further recommendations from High Court Collegiums are yet to be received in respect of 184 vacancies in the high courts. In the year 2022 till 09.12.2022, the government has appointed a record number of 165 judges in various high courts, which is the highest in a calendar year so far.
“Constitution (Ninety-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 w.e.f. 13.04.2015 were declared as unconstitutional and void vide judgement dated 16.12.2015. The Collegium system as existing prior to the enforcement of the Constitution (Ninety-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 was declared to be operative, and all current appointments in the Higher Judiciary are currently being made as per the existing MoP,” said the government reply.