The tirade by the opposition parties led by the Congress against the Union government over interference in judicial appointments has been found to be baseless as Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has now accepted that the government is not responsible for the delay in the judges’ appointment.
Hearing a petition filed by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that if at all any delay exists in the appointment of the judges it is because of the collegium and not because of Government of India, vindicating the stand of the NDA government regarding non-interference in the judicial process.
“If at all there was a delay, it was on the part of the collegium and not the Union of India,” CJI Gogoi said while hearing the petition. The petitioner had contended that the Union government was responsible for delaying the appointment of judges to High Courts.
Controversial Supreme Court lawyer, Prashant Bhushan representing the petitioner alleged that the Centre has been indefinitely sitting on names recommended by the Collegium for appointment to the country’s higher judiciary. It argued that the government cannot frustrate the process of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary in “an oblique way”, and that this amounted to interference in the due process of law and independence and integrity of the judiciary.
However, the CJI Gogoi on a bench with justice Sanjiv Khanna rejected the argument, said, “How can you say that? The appointment is happening; some of the names are pending with the Collegium. As the Chief Justice, I am telling you that whatever is pending is mostly before the collegium. There are almost 70-80 proposals pending before the Supreme Court collegium and hardly 27 before the government.”
The observations made by the Chief Justice assume huge significance as it comes at the backdrop of the fact that the opposition parties have generally blamed the Narendra Modi government for deliberately delaying appointments in the judiciary.
The Congress party has always attacked the Narendra Modi government with the “independence of the judiciary is under threat” narrative despite the fact that it was the Congress party which had moved an impeachment motion against the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra allegedly for pronouncing judgments that did not suit them.