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Need To Free The Stuck: Government’s Selective Clearance Of Collegium Picks Worries Supreme Court

The three judges bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, and Justice Manoj Misra stated that when certain names from a single Collegium resolution are announced while others are kept unseen, it causes problems with seniority.

Aware of the delay in the appointment and transfer of 21 high court judges, the Supreme Court voiced its concerns on Friday over the Government’s selective removal of names from the list that the Collegium had suggested.

“When you appoint someone and don’t appoint someone else, the whole concept of seniority gets disturbed,” Justice Kaul said.

The bench was considering two petitions for contempt of court against the Center for allegedly delaying the decision on the SC Collegium’s recommendations for the recruitment and transfer of judges. One was submitted by the legal association Advocates Association Bengaluru, and the other by an NGO.

Justice Kaul praised the Center for clearing names that the Collegium had proposed two weeks prior and appointing them “without delay,” calling this a “positive development” and proof that the “current process is working well.” However, he added, we must free the jammed.

“The current position is 5 reiterated names are pending, 5 recommended for the first time are pending, and 11 transfers are pending,” the court noted in its order.

Senior counsel Dushyant Dave, who was representing a few of the petitioners, claimed that removing names from the Collegium list on a selective basis causes many qualified candidates to withdraw.

Next, Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh, who represented the Center, was questioned by Justice Kaul. He said, “What is being put to you is: Suppose there are five names, you notify four and hold back on one…How about it?

“This should not happen…Some people have accepted it, some people out of frustration have withdrawn… There are a lot of good people. I keep saying it’s a challenge these days to make people come to this side (bench)…,” he said, adding it “will become a greater challenge” unless things change.

In response, Singh said he would follow instructions and evaluate the court on the upcoming hearing date, which is set for November 7.

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