New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed dissatisfaction on the progress made by the government in the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.
“Almost all of our high courts are functioning at half the strength, you might as well shut down the entire system," the court observed orally.
A bench comprising chief justice T.S. Thakur, justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao were hearing two public interest litigation cases that sought filling up of judicial vacancies.
The government’s top law officer attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the court that appointments are stalled as the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointing judges is yet to be finalised.
The apex court’s collegium and the government are yet to nod in agreement on certain aspects of the MoP.
“You’ve undertaken that appointments will be made in spite of the MoP being finalised," the chief justice told Rohatgi.
The chief justice said that executive inaction in appointment of judges is crippling the institution. The collegium comprising the apex court’s senior-most judges has submitted around 75 names for filling vacancies in high courts.
Rohatgi asked the court to defer hearing the case and assured the court that progress will be made.
Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission and a related constitutional amendment which proposed a six-member panel, including the law minister and two independent persons, to appoint judges to high courts and the Supreme Court.
The apex court also sought to improve the functioning of the collegium, which recommends the names of judges to the government.
The case will be heard next on 11 November.