Supreme Court: 324 posts of high court judges vacant: Government

There are more than 320 vacancies in various high courts where 790 judges are working as against the sanctioned strength of 1,114, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday. In a written reply to a question, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal also said that according to the existing Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), the transfer of chief justices and judges of the high courts are to be made in public interest — for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.

“No timeline has been prescribed in the MoP for transfer of judges from one high court to another,” he said.

Prepared in 1998, the MoP is a set of documents which guide the appointment, elevation and transfer of high court judges. Since Supreme Court judges cannot be transferred, it guides their appointment and elevation.

As on December 4, the top court is functioning with its sanctioned strength of 34 judges, including the Chief Justice of India.

As regards the high courts, against the sanctioned strength of 1,114 judges, 790 judges are working and 324 posts are vacant, he said.

Meghwal said as on January of this year, 171 proposals received from High Court Collegiums were at different stages of processing. This year 121 fresh proposals were received. Out of the total 292 proposals, 110 judges have been appointed and 60 recommendations were remitted to the High Courts on the advice of the Supreme Court Collegium. He also noted that as on December 4 this year, 122 proposals were at various stages of processing.

Out of these 122 proposals, 87 were sent to the Supreme Court Collegium for seeking advice. The Supreme Court Collegium has provided advice on 45 proposals, which are at various stages of processing in the government.

He said 42 proposals are under consideration with the SC Collegium. Thirty-five “fresh proposals” received recently are being processed for seeking the advice of the apex court collegium.

“Recommendations are yet to be received from High Court Collegiums in respect of the remaining 198 vacancies,” the minister noted.

The appointment of SC and HC judges is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process between the executive and the judiciary.

“It requires consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities both at state and central levels,” Meghwal explained.

As a result of the collaborative process between the executive and the judiciary, 165 judges were appointed in various high courts and eight high court judges, including two chief justices, were transferred in 2022. In 2023, a total of 110 judges have been appointed in various HCs and 34 judges transferred till December 4.

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