Supreme Court To Examine Delay In Finalising Procedure For Judges Appointment

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday said it will examine the issue relating to delay in finalising the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

A bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to respond on the issue and said even though there was no time limit fixed for finalisation of the MoP, the issue “cannot linger on for indefinite period”.

“We need to consider the prayer that there should be no further delay in finalisation of MoP in larger public interest. Even though no time-limit was fixed by this Court for finalisation of the MoP, the issue cannot linger on for indefinite period,” the court said while observing that the court order in this regard came in 2015 and nearly two years have passed since then.

The court agreed with the petitioner, lawyer RP Luthra’s contention that the MoP must provide for a mechanism so that appointments of regular Chief Justices of High Courts are not unduly delayed.

The bench said: “No doubt, the process is to be initiated by the Collegium and proposal is expected to be so initiated before accrual of the vacancies so as to ensure that appointments take place by the time vacancies arise and that the arrangement of acting Chief Justices does not exceed one month, as stipulated in the MoP currently in force…”

The Centre and the Collegium have long been at loggerheads over the finalisation of the MoP, ever since the Constitution Bench in the NJAC matter directed the Central government to frame a new MoP in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

The court also appointed senior advocate K.V. Vishwanathan as amicus curiae and asked him to assist the bench in the matter, whose next hearing will be on November 14.

The top court, which was hearing a plea filed by Luthra, rejected the prayer challenging the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and high courts on the ground that MoP was not finalised as per the verdict of the court, but said it will examine the issue of delay of the MoP.