The matter refers to the April 19 recommendation to the Centre by Collegium regarding the appointment of Justice M Yaqoob Mir and Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar as the chief justices of the Meghalaya High Court and Manipur High Court respectively, which has not been cleared by the government yet. In November previous year, as a fallout of the Lucknow medical college case petitions, Chief Justice Misra had ordered that mentionings should be made before the Chief Justice of India alone and not other Supreme Court Benches. Under the garb of "reconsideration" the Central government effectively seeks to veto the decision of the Collegium and de facto prevent the names of those whom it considers "inconvenient" or worse still, whom it seeks to "punish" for daring to pass independent judgments, which may not be palatable to the Central government.
Justice KM Joseph, whose elevation to the top court has been put on hold by the government, told reporters today that the centre's stand was unprecedented.
The top court recently took a dim view of lawyers in the Calcutta High Court going on strike protesting the failure to fill up vacancies and the appointment of a Chief Justice - which has been done since then.
The post of chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court is lying vacant since Justice M.A. Mir retired on 24 April 2017.
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On Friday the Attorney General KK Venugopal assured the court that appointments to high courts in the northeast would be made soon, but said that will not resolve the problem of vacancies in all high courts. "What are you doing?" the bench asked. The bench pointed out to the overall situation in North East with Meghalaya HC having one judge where sanctioned strength is 4, Tripura HC functioning at 50 per cent capacity with just two judges, and Manipur HC having three vacancies. People of Northeast are suffering.
The court asked Advocates-On-Record and junior lawyers to mention the matters for urgent hearing before the Registrar who will hear the plea for urgent listing and would take a call. What are they supposed to do?
A similar confrontation was witnessed when the five-judge Constitution Bench of the apex court struck down the 99th Amendment and National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act in 2015.
Venugopal replied the government was serious about the appointment and that the same would be done in 10 days, said a report in The Hindustan Times (HT).