An angry Supreme Court on Friday slammed the Centre’s Modi government for not appointing judges whose names were sent for clearance in February adding that the delay threatened to ‘decimate’ the judiciary.
In a scathing attack, the Supreme Court today said the government cannot bring the judiciary to a “grinding halt” by not appointing High Court judges despite the recommendations of its collegium long ago and said it could as well close the courts and lock “justice out”.
“You cannot bring the entire institution (of judiciary) to a grinding halt. If there is a problem with the name of a person, please send it back and ask us to reconsider,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Centre, in a packed courtroom.
Expressing deep anguish over the delay in appointment of judges in high courts, the bench also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao gave the example of the Karnataka High Court where one of the floors, having court rooms, is locked due to lack of judges.
“You may now as well close court rooms down and lock justice out,” the bench, which initially threatened to summon the secretaries of the PMO and the Law Ministry to appear before it with the files, said.
The bench was irked when Rohatgi, at the outset, raised the issue of non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) as one of the reasons hindering the appointment process and said it was necessary in pursuance of the recent apex court judgement, which quashed the NJAC Act.
In August too, the apex court had warned Modi government not to force it to pass the orders on this matter.
It had said, “Don’t force us to pass orders to remove this logjam.”
In April, an emotional Justice Thakur had left everyone surprised by publicly breaking down lamenting “inaction” by the Executive to increase the number of judges from the present 21,000 to 40,000 to handle the “avalanche” of litigations.
Choked Justice Thakur had said in Modi’s presence, “…And therefore, it is not only in the name of a litigant or people languishing in jails but also in the name of development of the country, its progress that I beseech you to rise to the occasion and realise that it is not enough to criticise. You cannot shift the entire burden on the judiciary.”
More to come