NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday voiced its concern over the delay on part of the Centre in acting on recommendations made by the Collegium related to appointment and transfer of judges in the High Courts, including "sensitive" appointment of Delhi HC judge Justice Siddharth Mridul as Manipur HC chief justice.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, however, granted one week time on a request made by Attorney General R Venkatramani.
“I thought of saying a lot, since the AG is asking for only seven days I am holding myself that is all... and won’t keep quiet for long," Justice Kaul said while fixing the matter for hearing every 10 days till it gets an assurance from Centre that things look positive.
Hearing a plea by Advocates Association, Bengaluru, the bench said about 70 names recommended for elevation as HC judges have been pending with the Centre since November, 2022.
Of these names, the bench pointed out there were 26 names related to transfer of HC judges and one related to appointment of Chief Justice.
The court said it would continue to monitor the matter every 10 to 12 days.
"70 names (for the appointment of high court judges) are pending for a period of 10 months…..basic processing takes place for these 70 names. In high courts, 70 judges are not there, as some of them do not get appointed, on average 50 percent. If your view would be known then Collegium will take a call but if it does not come then. The time frame fixed under the judgment was about four months, let us take five months,” the bench said.
"I am flagging it so that you can take instructions, at least the high court recommendation up to the end of April must be with the Collegium," Justice Kaul told AG.
In July this year, the Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, had recommended Delhi High Court judge Siddharth Mridul for appointment as Chief Justice of Manipur High Court. However, his appointment has not been notified by the government so far.
The court said nothing has happened in past several months since it last heard the matter, as "the appointment of Chief Justice is very sensitive matter".
Senior advocate Arvind Datar represented the association. Advocate Prashant Bhushan for an intervenor highlighted issues of withdrawal of consent by the candidates due to delay and segregation of names by the Centre.
The bench said there are nine such cases and the court had indicated to the AG that every 10 days, it will take up this matter and the only concern is that the seven-months hiatus, lawyers lose interest and withdraw their names, though “we endeavour to get the best talent available in different courts”.
"We have endeavoured to push these things….now we want to monitor it closely," the bench said, fixing the matter for hearing on October 9.
In February, the court had warned the Centre that any delay in clearing transfer of High Court judges recommended by its Collegium "may result in both administrative and judicial actions which may not be palatable".