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Appoint judges within 6 months, Supreme Court tells Centre

SC said that the government must clear all appointments to the superior courts within six months of any recommendation being sent to it even as the law ministry issued a formal notification appointing Justice Akil Kureshi as the Tripura High Court...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 09, 2019, 08.31 AM IST
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Supreme Court
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday said that the government must clear all appointments to the superior courts within six months of any recommendation being sent to it even as the law ministry issued a formal notification appointing Justice Akil Kureshi as the Tripura High Court Chief Justice after much delay. Justice Kureshi was initially transferred from the Bombay High Court to the MP High Court as Chief Justice, but the government sent back his name for reconsideration, prompting the collegium to change its mind and instead send him to the Tripura High Court as Chief Justice, a move that had not gone down well with sections of the bar.

The Gujarat High Court Bar Association had challenged this in the top court forcing the court to deal with it on the judicial side.

The government had sought repeated adjournments on the issue to take a decision on appointing Justice Kureshi. A decision finally came on Friday even though the recommendation was first made by the collegium on May 10, 2019. The case will now come up before a bench led by CJI designate SA Bobde on Wednesday.

The outgoing CJI Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday had referred the issue to the new CJI.

Gogoi had also allowed the association, through senior advocate Arvind P Datar, to make submissions on the need to fix a deadline for the government to appoint a person recommended to be a judge. “In case the person is a lawyer, he doesn’t know whether to continue to practice or not,” Datar said.

The subject resonated in another court on Friday when the issue of lawyers’ strikes came up. Justices SK Kaul and Indira Banerjee spoke up on the need to initiate the appointment process six months ahead of a post falling vacant in the high courts.

The government must clear any recommendation within another six months, the bench said, which was speaking in the backdrop of a long strike in the Odisha High Court paralysing court work. Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the Odisha High Court Bar Council chairman, blamed the strike on the high court functioning at almost half its strength.

“This is one of the reasons why the lawyers went on strike,” he claimed, suggesting a time limit for filling them up. The AG also backed this when he said that the collegium in consultation with the law ministry must frame guidelines on this so that there is no delay on the part of the government.

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