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Mamata highlights judicial vacancies in Calcutta HC

Mamata highlights judicial vacancies in Calcutta HC

New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday attended the joint conference of Judges and Chief Ministers here at Vigyan Bhawan where she sternly pressed the issue of vacancies of judges at Calcutta High Court. Banerjee also requested Union Law minister Kiren Rijiju to expedite the process of sending proposals to the government to fill the remaining judicial vacancies.

The sanctioned strength of the Calcutta High Court is 72, whereas 39 posts are vacant, which is more than half.

Sources said the Chief Minister claimed that the High Court Collegium had made 11 recommendations for Calcutta High Court out of which the Centre only approved and appointed one judge so far.

In the reply, Rijiju also mentioned: "Filling up for vacancies in the high courts is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process. The government is working on it."

While talking at the same event, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana also stressed on the issue and added that the Centre must accelerate the process to sanction the list sent by the Supreme Court Collegium or else recommend their panel, sources said. Currently, 388 vacancies of High Court judges are there across the country reportedly.

At the same time, Banerjee also informed the CJI that the state cannot allot more than 10 acres of land for new buildings for the Calcutta High Court in the New Town area of Kolkata when he sought an increase of the same from the Chief Minister. She asserted: "I believe 10 acres of land is sufficient for the new installation of the Calcutta High Court as the sanctioned strength is 72 and more than half the posts of judges are vacant." Sources said that Banerjee also added: "I also believe that the current High Court is located at the central part of the city and commutation is easy. New Town is far."

Around seven resolutions were taken up, discussed and passed during the joint conference, which was also addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The resolutions discussed include the formation of a panel for court infrastructure and funds, the appointment of judges, e-court proceedings, acceleration of proceedings on pending cases in several courts, filing PILs etc.

Sources also added that while talking on the panel for court infrastructure, the West Bengal Chief Minister stressed on the presence of Chief Secretaries of respective states on such panels, along with political appointments for better work. However, Banerjee refused to comment officially.

Coincidentally, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sat beside Banerjee that grabbed the spotlight. The West Bengal Chief Minister, who made scathing attacks against Adityanath and countered him during the recent UP assembly polls, exchanged warm greetings during the programme.

On the other hand, Banerjee also met Prime Minister Modi during the conference, which was unplanned. Sources added that she also lauded his speech during which CJI Ramana was also present.

Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors of other states were also invited to the programme. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin were not present.

Banerjee is scheduled to return to Kolkata on Sunday.

Meanwhile, bringing an end to all speculations, Banerjee clarified that poll strategist Prashant Kishor will continue to work with her party.

Mamata said Kishor's lack of ideological commitment as raised by section of the Congress was also an area of concern but he remains associated with her party.

Her statement comes in the wake of Kishor's unsuccessful attempt to join the Congress party despite hectic efforts. "Even within the Trinamool Congress, there were differences of opinion on his role but it was made clear that the association with him will continue as an election strategist," Mamata added.

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