The Supreme Court on Tuesday, in M/s. PLR Projects Pvt. Ltd v. Mahanadi Coalfields Limited laid down deadlines for the government and the Intelligence Bureau to follow in order to deal with the Central government’s delay in clearing the recommendations made by the Supreme Court Collegium for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
The Supreme Court Collegium should receive the file within 8 to 12 weeks after the Central government receives inputs/views from the State government and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), according to a bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant.
The Court established the following timelines:
- The IB should submit its report/inputs to the Central Government within 4 to 6 weeks of the High Court Collegium’s recommendation.
- It would be preferable if the Central Government sent the file(s)/recommendations to the Supreme Court within 8 to 12 weeks of receiving the State Government’s views from the IB.
It would be for the Government to thereafter proceed to make the appointment immediately on the aforesaid consideration and undoubtedly if Government has any reservations on the suitability or in the public interest, within the same period of time it may be sent back to the Supreme Court Collegium with the specific reasons for reservation recorded.
If the Supreme Court Collegium unanimously reiterates the recommendation(s) after considering the above inputs, the appointment should be processed and rendered within 3 to 4 weeks.
In its order, the Court also mentioned a large number of vacancies in the High Courts.
The order said, “Against the approved strength of 1080 Judges, 664 Judges have been selected, with 416 Judges vacancies.”
196 plans to fill those vacancies are pending with the government, though High Court collegiums have yet to make recommendations in the case of 220 vacancies, the Court noted.