February 16, 2021: Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister of Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, answered questions regarding the appointment of judges on February 04, 2021. There are a total of 419 vacancies for high court judges in the country, according to the minister. State-wise distribution of these vacancies was also presented in the parliament under the attached annexure. A total of 4 vacancies exist in the Supreme Court of India apart from the above mentioned. The number of recommendations received by the concerned ministry was also specified by the minister. These recommendations are related to the elevation of judges to the Supreme court and respective high courts.
The minister announced on February 4, 2021, that a total of 419 high court vacancies for judges exist in the country. Out of these, Allahabad has 64 vacancies which is the highest number in the country. On the other hand, Manipur, Meghalaya and Sikkim have zero vacancies and the state of Tripura has just one vacancy. There are 4 vacancies for judges in the Supreme court as of February 1, 2021.
It is also reported by Ravi Shankar Prasad that in the last three years from 2018 to 2020, the Supreme Court Collegium (SCC) had made a total of 18 recommendations for the elevation of judges to the Supreme Court. All these recommendations made to the ministry were eventually appointed. The Memorandum of Procedure for appointing high court judges dictates certain instructions to the government while filling those vacancies. As per the Memorandum, the government can only appoint individuals recommended by the SCC as judges of High Courts.
The High Court Collegiums (HCCs) made a total of 505 recommendations in the duration of the last three years. Out of these, 177 names were also recommended by the SCC and thus, appointed as High Court Judges by the government. The SSC rejected a total of 134 names out of the list of recommendations. A total of 194 proposals given by HCCs across the country are still under various stages of deliberation with the SCC and the government.
The minister further went on to clarify that filling up vacancies and appointing judges to High Courts is a continuous process. The process is also integrated and collaborated between the Executive and Judicial bodies of India. Consultations and approval from multiple constitutional authorities are required for the appointment. These authorities exist at both state and central level. Efforts are constantly made to fill these vacancies with utmost speed and efficiency. However, these high court vacancies continue to rise due to resignation, retirement or elevation of judges. They may also arise due to an elevation in the number of judges, clarified the minister.
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