On a day which was marked by back to back historic decisions, the Supreme Court on Monday questioned the Centre as why judges and chief justices of high courts are not being transferred despite the recommendations of the collegium and asked it to file a status report on such pending transfers with detailed reasons in two weeks.
The top court said it gives rise to "speculation and misgivings" due to continuance of such judges in the same high court and instead of sitting over the recommendation, the Centre should return back to the collegium for reconsideration.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that "continuance of judges in the same high courts despite being transferred is giving rise to speculation and misgivings. If you (the Centre) have any problem with the recommendations then send it back to us. We will look into it. There is no point sitting over it."
Justice Thakur, who is demitting office tomorrow as the Chief Justice of India, has been regularly questioning the government over the appointment of judges for higher judiciary and both (the Centre and the judiciary) are at loggerheads with each other over the issue.
Rohatgi said that the collegium has sent back 37 names of judges to the government which is looking at them.
"What about the transfers of judges which has been recommended by the collegium? You are sitting over them for over 10 months," a bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
The AG said he needs to take instructions on the pending recommendations of transfers and sought three weeks of time.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani said the top law officer of the government should have all the information.
"I have no information about the transfers. Give me some time. I will come back in three weeks with full details," Rohatgi said.
Jethmalani said that transfer recommendation of Justice M R Shah of the Gujarat High Court is pending since February 2016.
"I do not understand why is the government so interested to keep this man over there," he said.
At the outset, senior advocate Yatin Oza said, "Things are really bad. I cannot say a lot of things in open court in the presence of journalists and media. Recommendations which were made six months after Justice Shah's have seen light of the day.
(With PTI inputs)