The Supreme Court today expressed displeasure over vacancies not being filled at tribunals and said that government keeps creating forums to take away work from judiciary but cannot man them.
The top court also referred to the vacancies in high courts and said that many a time the Supreme Court collegium and government are not on same page due to which large number of recommendation do not go through.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and BR Gavai extended by three months the tenure of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) member VK Jain, who is set to retire on May 29.
The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to take some constructive instructions on filling up of vacancies and posted the matter after six weeks.
During the hearing, senior advocate Parag Tripathi said here are seven vacancies at NCDRC as against the sanctioned strength of 11 members and includes three for judicial and four non-judicial members.
The bench said it would ask the Solicitor General to take instructions on filling up the vacancies and observed that it is a perennial problem due to which functioning of tribunals has come to a standstill.
Mr Mehta while accepting that there is a problem, which is to be attended said that the court may extend the tenure of NCDRC member, who is set to retire on May 29, till the government take some steps.
The solicitor General said that he has communicated to the government to look into the issue of filling of vacancies in the tribunals.
The bench said that the government keeps creating forums to take away works from judiciary but it does not man them as a result the work comes to a standstill.
It said the Covid-19 problem will have its own ramification but the issue of non-filling of vacancies is creating a problem and the court must express its displeasure to this.
The government must attend to the problem of vacancies urgently, the top court said.
The bench referred to the orders passed in the matter related to the Orissa High Court with regard to filling of vacancies at the high court level and said that it had to try to push the government to make the appointment.
It said the government had then told the court that high courts were taking enough time to send the recommendation due to which there was delay in filling of vacancies.
The bench said it had then asked the high court to look into the issue but the second problem was that the collegium and government are not on the same page and therefore large number of recommendation do not go through.
This problem cannot be allowed to go through and a solution has to be found, it said.
Mr Tripathi suggested that existing members of tribunals scheduled to retire should be allowed to continue till new appointments are made by the government.
The bench said that if the court allows extension of tenure to the existing members then there will be no appointments by the government.
On February 27, the Centre had told the top court that on an average the government takes 127 days for clearing the recommendation sent to it during the process of appointment of judges in higher judiciary, whereas the top court Collegium takes 119 days to deal with it.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had then told the top court that high courts across the country have not even recommended the names for appointment of judges for 199 out of 396 vacancies.
Taking note of Venugopal's submissions, the top court had asked the registrars general of all the high courts to explain the current vacancy position and also the vacancies which would arise in the future.
It had asked the registrars general of the high courts to also explain the time period required by them for making recommendations for the vacancy of judges.
The top court had earlier said that appointments must be made within six months of a person''s name being cleared by the Collegium and the government.
The bench is seized of a transfer petition, originating from Odisha, where lawyers were observing strike in several districts demanding circuit benches of high court in other parts of the state.
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