NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was not solely to blame for delay in appointment of judges and that the SC collegium was equally responsible. Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph that on an average, the government takes 127 days for clearing the collegium’s recommendation sent to it, whereas the collegium itself takes 119 days to clear a name.
This statement was countered by the bench which referred to the number of days being taken by the government after receiving Intelligence Bureau report.
On this, Venugopal said, “Suppose there is an adverse IB report, we have to verify it. We cannot blindly forward it. See the number of days taken by the Supreme Court collegium after recommendation is made.” Questioning the government, the bench said, “Last year, the number of appointments was less as compared to 2017 and 2018…2019 saw around 60 appointments. When the collegium reiterates a name, how can you keep it pending?”
Venugopal said as on date, around 80 proposals are pending with the SC collegium. Also blaming the high courts across the country, the Centre said they had not even recommended the names for appointment as judges for 199 out of 396 vacancies.
On this, the bench asked the registrar generals of all the high courts to explain the current vacancy position as on today (Monday) and also the vacancies which would arise in the future. It also told them to explain within four weeks the time period required by them for making recommendations against the vacancies.