PTI Photo by Atul Yadav
PTI Photo by Atul Yadav

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday called for time-bound appointment of the High Court judges, stressing expeditious process at the hands of all who have to discharge the constitutional obligations entrusted by the Constitution.

It laid stress on definite timelines drawn for each stage of the process, saying it will keep hope and aspiration of litigants alive and fulfil the commitment of providing speedy justice. A Bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan made this observation while dismissing a petition of Rajasthan’s advocate Sunil Samdaria, who had challenged appointment of two retired district judges as the additional judges of the Rajasthan High Court in May 2017.

Holding that the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court had recommended names of the two judges in February 2016, ahead of their retirement as district judges, the Bench said the process of appointments takes so much time that  it defeats the purpose of  Article 224(1).

Advocate Samdaria, who argued the case himself, pointed out that both the appointees are to retire in less than two years in July and September 2018 violating Article 224 and moreover they were no longer holding the judicial office to be eligible for appointment. Discussing the undue delay in the process of recommendation to appointment, the Bench said the ideal situation would be to fill up the post immediately on vacancy to ensure no time is lost by initiating the process at least one month prior to the anticipated vacancy.

It regretted that in the first instance names are not forwarded by the High Court in time; what to talk of sending the names one month in advance of the vacancy, the names are not forwarded even much after the vacancy has occurred. “Further, once the names are forwarded, they remain pending at the executive level for unduly long time before they are sent to the  Supreme Court collegium for approval along with the inputs of the executive.

“Even after the clearance of the names by the Collegium, they remain pending at the level of the executive. All this results in inordinate delay,” the Bench said. It noted that sometimes it takes more than one year or much more than one year even to complete the process from the date of forwarding names till appointment. The Bench further went on to note that this process adversely affects tenure of the judicial officers of subordinate judiciary recommended to the High Court for promotion; they get a chance for elevation when few years of service have been lost.

Equally, it said members of the Bar, whose names are recommended for elevation to the High Court, undergo hardships of a different kind. “It is unjust that fate of such persons remains in limbo for indefinite periods and gives rise to unnecessary conjectural debate, leading to unpleasant situations which can be avoided.”

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