The Centre and the judiciary have joined hands to solve the crisis—to fill up judicial vacancies. As a signal that the duo would work together to tide over issues concerning the judiciary, the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu acted swiftly and recommended 24 names for extension.
The revived collegium has cleared the names of 24 additional judges in six high courts for appointment as permanent judges and the Centre has played ball by flying the files to Kolkata to get the President’s assent.
“This was only a recommendation for a six-month extension for the 24 judges. Their terms expire on October 24. If nothing was done, they would have gone home,” says law minister DV Sadananda Gowda, while speaking to The Hindu.
The government cannot relax and watch as judicial vacancies keep piling up in the higher echelons, causing litigants untold sufferings due to delay in justice, he added.
Experts say the law minister’s reaction speaks of a shift in the government’s approach. In his blog, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley lashed out at the majority view of the NJAC Bench vis-a-vis against law minister.
Jaitley flayed how the court made a “fundamental error” by painting the elected government and constitutioal structures as “politicians”.
Justice Dattu said he would consult other judges “to decide on the filling of vacancies, or wait till November 3—the next hearing where suggestions would be sought for improving the system.”
Speaking to NDTV on 20 October, he said the verdict (collegium) has helped clear the air when 40% of judges’ posts are vacant
On 19 October, the President had appointed Justice Tinlianthang Vaiphei, senior-most judge of Gauhati HC, as its acting chief justice after the retirement of Justice Karanam Sreedhar Rao, who again was the acting chief justice.