Supreme Court Cautions Government Against ‘Pick and Choose’ Approach in Judicial Appointments

Supreme Court Cautions Government Against 'Pick and Choose' Approach in Judicial Appointments
Supreme Court Cautions Government Against 'Pick and Choose' Approach in Judicial Appointments
Supreme Court Cautions Government Against 'Pick and Choose' Approach in Judicial Appointments
Supreme Court Cautions Government Against 'Pick and Choose' Approach in Judicial Appointments

Supreme Court Cautions Government Against ‘Pick and Choose’ Approach in Judicial Appointments

Supreme Court Cautions Government Against ‘Pick and Choose’ Approach in Judicial Appointments

Supreme Court Cautions Government Against ‘Pick and Choose’ Approach in Judicial Appointments

The Supreme Court has issued a caution to the Union government, emphasizing the need to avoid a “pick and choose” approach in judicial appointments. The court expressed its concern that numerous recommendations for the appointment and transfer of judges, made by the collegium, have remained pending because the government segregated names sent together by the collegium.

Judicial Recommendations Await Action

A bench, headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, pointed out that several recommendations made by the collegium have not been acted upon by the government in the last nine months. As a result, the court initiated monitoring measures to oversee the government’s progress in processing these names. While some recommendations have been cleared in the past month, they are being selectively notified, raising concerns about an inconsistent approach in the appointments.

Effects of ‘Pick and Choose’ Approach

The court highlighted the adverse impact of this selective approach on the judiciary. It affects the principles of seniority, discourages qualified candidates from joining the bench, and undermines the incentive to serve as a judge. The court expressed concern about the pendency of names recommended for appointment as judges in the Madras High Court for over a year, while others were recently appointed.

Transfers Require Timely Action

The court underscored that the transfer of judges should be done without undue delay. The court emphasized that timely transfers are essential for the better administration of justice. The bench called for these transfers to be carried out promptly, preventing situations where judges feel reluctant to perform their duties effectively.

Monitoring Progress and Future Actions

The court instructed the government to provide an updated status report within two weeks and scheduled the next hearing for November 7. The court heard a contempt plea filed by the Advocate Association, Bengaluru, which raised concerns about pending appointments and unexplained delays by the government.

Cautions against Arbitrary Segregation of Names

The court questioned the rationale behind segregating names and not providing explanations for this practice, which has caused frustration among candidates. The memorandum of procedure (MoP), which guides judicial and government actions in judicial appointments and transfers, does not address this segregation practice. However, it has previously been criticized, and former Chief Justice Justice RM Lodha expressed disapproval of such unilateral segregation.

Addressing Judicial Vacancies

As of October 1, 347 high court judge positions remained vacant out of a total strength of 1,114 in the 25 high courts across the country, amounting to over 31% of the total strength. The Supreme Court has been closely monitoring the government’s actions concerning the collegium’s recommendations for judicial appointments and transfers, emphasizing the need for timely and transparent procedures.

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