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No logjam in appointment and transfer of judges: Centre tells SC

“There is no blame game. There is no logjam in the system. It’s like a race, if you start in time, you will reach in time. The High Courts, by and large, were pretty much delayed in starting the race. The process to fill up five year, six year old vacancies have been started late,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur. At the outset, he said “there is progress in the appointments and have the (hearing of the) matter after two weeks. We will see more progress.” 

The top law officer placed before the bench, which also comprised Justice A M Khanwilkar, two sets of documents in sealed envelopes containing a compilation of facts and figures on the appointment and transfer of judges.

Rohatgi told the bench that the documents will indicate every aspect of different high courts including that of the oldest Allahabad High Court where the vacancies are “alarming” and there has been a delay of nine years in starting the process by the judiciary. He hastened to clarify that there was no “blame game” over the issue and said the recommendations made by the collegium with regard to Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Allahabad High Courts have been “cleared”.

While “appreciating” the efforts made by the Centre, the bench said “it is an arduous process after which the recommendations come to us. Once we start the process, there should not be delay or it should be stalled. It has to move forward.” 

During the brief hearing, the CJI referred to his visit to Chattishgarh High Court and said there were only eight judges working there and the vacancy was more than one-third. Rohatgi responded by saying that all the three names pertaining to the Chhattisgarh High Court have been cleared.
The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on September 30.

Wednesday’s hearing came nearly a month after it had sent a stern message to the Centre over non-execution of collegium’s decision to transfer and appoint Chief Justices and judges in High Courts.
Earlier, the apex court had said it would not tolerate “logjam in judges’ appointment” and intervene to “fasten accountability” as the justice delivery system is collapsing”.

The bench had said that if the Government had reservation against any names, then it can always come back to the collegium. The Attorney General had pleaded that no notice should be issued for the time being on the PIL filed by 1971 war veteran Lieutenant Colonel Anil Kabotra on the issue as he will get back with the facts and figures.

SC notice to Centre, states over appointment of Ombudsman
With a PIL seeking appointment of Lokpal and Lokayuktas following the passage of a law three years ago, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre and all the states on the matter.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and P C Pant issued notices to the Centre and all state governments on the PIL which also seeks a direction to the states to provide adequate budgetary allocation and essential infrastructure for effective functioning of Lokayuktas.

The PIL filed by advocate and Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay alleged that though the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, received Presidential assent on January 1, 2014, and came into force from January 16, 2014, the executive has not established the Lokpal yet. “Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, envisages that every State shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Act, however, many States have not done so till date. And many States have not passed the Lokayukta Act in consonance with the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013,” the plea said.

According to the petitioner, many state governments are “deliberately weakening” the Lokayukta by not providing adequate infrastructure, sufficient budget and workforce.
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