The delay in clearing the appointment of judges to the higher courts reflects poorly on the functioning of the central government and also raises questions over its commitment to speedy justice. Though the Supreme Court Collegium has recommended the names for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary, the Centre is sitting over the list. It is deplorable on the part of the union government to be withholding the list of names sent by the apex court. It reflects the simmering conflict between the judiciary and the executive over the method of appointment, transfer and elevation of HC and SC judges.
The SC has rightly raised objections over the Centre’s uncooperative attitude and observed that it has become some sort of a device to force the persons whose names had been recommended to withdraw their consent for judgeship. Notably, 11 cases cleared and reiterated by the collegium, some more than a year ago, are awaiting appointment. This is creating avoidable friction between the judiciary and the executive. No doubt, successive governments – both the UPA and the NDA – have reservations over the collegium system, but it is not justified to create hurdles for the already decided appointments under the existing system. Upholding the collegium system, the apex court had in 2015 struck down the one envisaged under the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act. On the other hand, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has in the past two months been vocal about the NJAC as he found the collegium’s functioning “opaque.”
However, resorting to delaying tactics is not a solution to the impasse. The government should deliberate on the issue properly and, till a resolution acceptable to both parties is reached, it should honour the current system in place.