The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), led by top anti-corruption crusader, Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, has taken strong exception to the Government of India (GoI) rejecting 13 names recommended as judges for the Allahabad High Court by the Supreme Court collegiums.
Calling it “an affront to the institutional independence of the judiciary”, even as suggesting “callous disregard to the problems of the ordinary litigant”, CJAR in a statement has said, “As per the law well settled by the Supreme Court in the Second and Third Judges' cases, the GoI is not entitled to engage in an endless back and forth over the recommendations for appointment of judges to the High Court and the Supreme Court.”
CJAR says, “Once the recommendations are re-iterated by the collegium of judges, the GoI is constitutionally obligated to process the recommendations and appoint such persons as judges at the earliest.”
Calling GoI's action “unwarranted and unconstitutional”, CJAR underlines, “The Allahabad High Court suffers from the highest number of vacancies in judicial posts, and thereby a crippling problem of delay and arrears in disposing of cases.”
It adds, “Far from working with the judiciary to address these issues and ensuring the quick reduction of vacancies, the GoI has stalled the process for ulterior motives.”
Asking the GoI to cease the current “charade” and “resolve to act in accordance with the law and the Constitution and address the problems of the litigants by immediately appointing all the recommended persons to the Allahabad High Court”, CJAR says, “The repeated raising of petty objections suggests that the GoI has no intention of letting the judiciary fill the posts with competent, independent minded judges.”
Condemning the “disturbing trend”, and asking the judiciary to remain “firm, independent and uncompromising check on the government”, CJAR has characterized 2016 as the “year of abrasive disagreement between the judiciary and the government especially over the issue of judicial appointments”.
It says, there has been “complete opacity” on the part of both GoI and the Supreme Court in “disclosing a draft of the memorandum of procedure for appointments to the High Court and Supreme Court.”
“This process has been shrouded in secrecy”, it says, emphasizing, it excludes “public participation in this crucial process”. It adds, repeated requests from CJAR for a draft of the memorandum to be shared and have discussions on it have “received no response.”
Giving other instances of GoI’s “disregard” for law, CJAR says, “The government has not appointed Lokpal despite Parliament enacting the law in 2014. The Whistleblowers Protection Law also remains un-notified.”
Worse, it says, “Existing bodies such as the Information Commission have suffered due to large number of vacancies for long periods, with the resultant inability to carry out their mandate, which further undermines the objective of the law.”
Then, referring to the VIP copter scam, “in which politicians may now to be a focus of CBI probe”, CJAR says, “It becomes apparent why the government in a deliberate dereliction did not convene a meeting of the selection committee to select a full-fledged CBI director as mandated under the law.”