Collegium System and Appointment of “Ad-Hoc judges” in High Courts

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has asked the reason from the government for delaying the process of appointment of judges. As the government has not cleared the 55 recommendations made by the Collegium for judicial appointments to High Courts.

Vacancies in High Courts:

  • The total sanctioned strength in the 25 High Courts is 1,080. However, the present working strength is 661 with 419 vacancies as of March 1,2021.
  • The highest number of vacancies is in Patna High Court with 60% of the sanctioned judges vacant.
  • The least number of vacancies is in Meghalaya, Manipur, and Sikkim High Courts where there is no vacancy.

What is the collegium system through which judges get appointed?

  • Firstly, the Collegium makes decisions regarding appointments/elevation of judges to the Supreme Court, High Courts, and transfers of judges of the High Courts.
  • Secondly, the Collegium System has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.
  • Thirdly, the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court head the Supreme Court Collegium.
  • Are Collegium recommendations binding? The Central Government can ask the Collegium to reconsider its recommendations only once. The recommendations are binding on the Central Government if the Collegium sends the names of the judges to the government for the second time.

Appointment of Ad-Hoc Judges:

  • Firstly, the Supreme Court suggests the appointment of retired judges as ad-hoc judges to deal with the pendency of cases in High Courts.
  • Secondly, the appointment of ad-hoc judges has been provided in the Constitution under Article 224A (appointment of retired Judges at sittings of High Courts).
  • Thirdly, under the Article, the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State can request a person to act as a judge of the High Court. The conditions are
    • For this, the prior consent of the president is required.
    • The person should have held the office of judge of that court or of any other High Court.
  • Fourthly, such a judge is entitled to allowances as determined by the President.
  • Lastly, he will also enjoy all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges of a judge of that high court. But, he will not otherwise be deemed to be a judge of that high court.

Source: The Hindu

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