The government today told the Supreme Court that it had cleared 34 out of 77 names recommended by the Collegium for appointment in High Court.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the remaining 43 names have been returned to the Collegium.
“Out of 77 names recommended by the collegium, 34 have been cleared for appointment as High Court judges,” the AG said, adding that not a single file on appointment of judges is pending with the government.
Rohatgi said the Centre has already sent the fresh draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for consideration of the Collegium on August 3, this year, but so far no response has been received by the government.
The bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur also comprised justices Shiva Kirti Singh and L Nageswara Rao, then said that it would convene a meeting of the Collegium, which comprises four senior judges besides CJI, on November 15.
It has now fixed the PIL filed by 1971 war veteran Lieutenant Colonel Anil Kabotra, a former Army official, on the issue for further hearing on November 19.
The apex court had earlier rapped the government for delay in appointments to higher judiciary despite recommendations made by the collegium in this regard and had said the entire institution cannot be brought to a grinding halt.
Maintaining that the appointment process "cannot be stalled" due to non-finalisation of the MoP, the court had
criticised the tardy progress in processing files pertaining to judges' appointment and even warned that it may summon the Secretaries of the PMO and the Ministry of Law and Justice to ascertain the factual position.
The Attorney General had said that non-finalisation of the MoP was one of the issues and had assured the bench that more progress will be seen in the near future on the appointment of judges.
The Centre had on September 14 told the apex court that there was "no blame game" or "logjam" in appointments and transfer of judges for higher judiciary but blamed the high courts for "pretty much delaying" in starting the process.
Earlier, the apex court had said it would not tolerate "logjam in judges' appointment" and would intervene to "fasten accountability as the justice delivery system is collapsing".
The bench had said that if the government had reservation about any name, it could always come back to the collegium.
The Attorney General had also pleaded that no notice should be issued for the time being on the PIL saying he would get back with the facts and figures.
The PIL has referred to the huge backlog of cases and vacancies in the judiciary and sought a direction to the authorities in this regard.
Kabotra, in his PIL, has sought a direction to Ministry of Law and Justice to take "immediate steps" to facilitate filling up of existing vacancies in the judiciary across the country.
He has also sought a direction to consider and implement 245th report of the Law Commission on reforms in judiciary and to increase the judges' strength and infrastructural facilities in courts in the country.
The plea has further said "the respondent (Centre) is duty-bound to facilitate filling up of existing judges strength across the country and to consider increasing the same substantially in terms of the Law Commission's report."