NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre why high courts judges and chief justices were not being transferred despite collegium recommendations and asked it to file a status report on such pending transfers with detailed reasons in two weeks.
“Continuance of judges in the same high courts despite being transferred is giving rise to speculation and misgivings. If you (the Centre) have any problem with the recommendations then send it back to us. We will look into it. There is no point sitting over it,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur told Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi.
Justice Thakur, who is demitting office on Tuesday, has been regularly questioning the government over the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. The Centre and the judiciary are at loggerheads with each other over the issue.
Rohatgi, representing the government, said the collegium had sent back 37 names of judges to the government, which was looking at them.
“What about the transfers of judges which has been recommended by the collegium? You are sitting over them for over 10 months,” a bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
Rohatgi sought three weeks of time to reply.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani said the top law officer of the government should have all the information, adding that the transfer recommendation of Justice M R Shah of the Gujarat High Court has been pending since February 2016. “I do not understand why is the government so interested to keep this man over there,” he said.
Toeing the same line, senior advocate Yatin Oza said, “Why has the government not cleared Justice Shah’s file when other files dated prior, post and simultaneous to this file has already been processed?” “Things are really bad. I cannot say a lot of things in open court in the presence of journalists and the media.” The attorney-general, however, reiterated that there were no files pending with the government and said the state high courts’ judiciary was to blame for the delay in filling up the vacancies.
The apex court had said it would not tolerate the “logjam” in judges’ appointment and would intervene to “fasten accountability as the justice delivery system is collapsing”.