The Supreme Court Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana, has recommended 68 names, including 10 women, for appointment as judges in 12 High Courts across the country. The list comprises 44 advocates and 24 judicial officers in total.
The unprecedented move by the three-member collegium (including Justices U U Lalit and Justice A M Khanwilkar) is a historic first, with the recommendations being made in one single go. In the meetings held on August 25 and September 1, the collegium considered the names of 112 candidates – 82 from the bar and 31 from the judicial services.
From amongst the names cleared, 44 are from the bar and 24 from the judicial services. At the same time, 16 names have been recommended for appointment to the Allahabad High Court, 8 have been chosen for Kerala, 6 each for Calcutta and Rajasthan, 5 each for Gauhati and Jharkhand, 4 each for Punjab and Haryana and Madras, 2 for Chhattisgarh, and 1 for Madhya Pradesh.
In all, 10 women have been recommended for elevation, including a female judicial officer belonging to the Scheduled Tribe - Marli Vankung. Vankung has been recommended for elevation to the Gauhati High Court and will serve as the first-ever High Court judge from Mizoram. The recommendations come at a time when courts across the country are facing the problem of several unfilled vacancies and a growing pendency of cases.
As per the Department of Justice, there are 465 vacancies in the 25 High Courts of the country — 281 of permanent judges and 184 of Additional Judges — against a sanctioned strength of 1,098. Of these, the Allahabad High Court accounts for 68 vacancies, the Punjab and Haryana High Court accounts for 40, and the Calcutta High Court makes up for 36 vacancies.
In April this year, the Supreme Court had expressed concerns regarding the growing vacancies in the High Courts. It had noted, “There are almost 40% vacancies in the High Courts, with many of the larger High Courts working under 50% of their sanctioned strength.”
The appointed judges will be elevated to the 12 High Courts, namely Allahabad, Rajasthan, Calcutta, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madras, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, and Assam.
Earlier in August, another collegium headed by the CJI also cleared nine names, including three women in one go for elevation to the Supreme Court. They took the oath of allegiance on August 31, following clearance from the Central Government.