NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Thursday said the Centre should respond to its collegium recommendations within a reasonable time frame and favoured appointment of ad-hoc judges in the high courts to reduce the pendency of cases in the judiciary.
A bench of Chief Justice Bobde and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant took note of delay on part of the central government in acting on the collegium’s recommendations.
It said that on each stage there is certain thought process and therefore “there should be reasonable time frame within which the Union Ministry of Law and Justice should act. After collegium recommends they need to reply in specific time frame”.
The bench said there are certain recommendations which are pending before the government for past six months.
It asked Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, to make a statement regarding clearing of names recommended by the top court collegium.
Venugopal said that he will respond to this on the next date of hearing.
The bench also sought responses from all the High Courts on the possibility of ad-hoc judges as per Article 224A of the Constitution on a plea filed by an NGO Lok Prahari, seeking appointment of additional judges in the high courts in order to reduce the pendency.
Article 224-A of Constitution says “…the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a Judge of that Court or of any other High Court to sit and act as a Judge of the High Court for that State”.
Referring to some of the cases which are pending for more than 30 years in the high courts and trial courts, the top court said that appointment of ad-hoc judges can bring the pendency under control.
The CJI said Article 224A of the Constitution is not being used and the court may lay down guidelines for appointment of ad-hoc judges, if the pendency of goes beyond a certain limit.
Senior advocate R S Suri said that ad-hoc appointment can be made after regular vacancies are filled.
The bench said that it does not favour a system where regular appointments of judges are stalled for the appointment of ad-hoc judges.
On January 27, the top court had taken strong note of the delay on the part of the Central government in acting on the collegium’s recommendations clearing names for appointment of judges in higher judiciary, saying “it is a matter of great concern”.
The apex court had then said that as on date 189 proposals on appointment of judges are pending and sought an update on the latest position from the government.