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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Court vacancies not due to govt’s inaction alone: Rijiju | India News

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NEW DELHI: On the day the Supreme Court regained its full strength of 34 judges with the swearing-in of two new judges, cleared by the government within 48 hours of recommendation, law minister Kiren Rijiu said that criticism of the government for delay in judicial appointments is misguided and baseless.
Speaking exclusively to TOI on Monday, the minister said: “A notion has been spread that large vacancies in courts are a result of inaction by the government. This is completely untrue. Processing appointments (to higher judiciary is) a combined effort of the judiciary and government. I don’t want to blame anyone when the decision-making is a collective responsibility.”
The minister said on various occasions, there has been disagreement between the government and the SC over suitability of candidates for judgeship, but also stressed that there have also been differences of opinion among the five members of the SC collegium that make recommendations.
On why there has been divergence of views on candidates for the higher judiciary, the minister said: “I don’t want to comment beyond a point on how names are picked up and how processes are being followed. Everybody knows it, and that is why we had proposed NJAC (National Judicial Appointments Commission), which was struck down by the SC. One of the members of that bench later regretted striking it down, saying it was wrong. But what is the point now? Had the NJAC been in place, things would have been different and more transparent.”
Rijiju also asserted that the executive was duty-bound to vet the collegium’s recommendations with due diligence, saying the exercise has to be detailed and rigorous given the sheer sensitivity of the task. “The SC, in one of its own judgments, had stated that the government must act on selection of judges only after proper due diligence. It mandates that the onus is on the government to ensure that a person is fit to be a judge. To do a proper background verification it takes time. Time is also taken when recommendations are (pending) with the SC collegium,” the minister added.

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