The Supreme Court on Friday slammed the Centre for sitting over the recommendations of the top court collegium for the appointment of judges to various High Courts, terming the move as amounting to paralysing and locking out the judiciary.
Telling the government that no attempt to paralyse the judicial institution would be tolerated, the bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao said all the courts on the ground floor of the Karnataka High Court were locked for want of Judges.
The Chief Justice pointed out that recommendations for the appointment of judges to the Allahabad High Court were pending with the government for the past nine months.
He said if the government had any problems with any name then it could send it back, but it cannot sit over it, pointing out that the High Courts were functioning at 50 per cent of their sanctioned strength.
"We had a situation when there were judges but no courtrooms, today we have courtrooms but no judges. Half of the courtrooms in Karnataka High Court are locked. You can as well have whole courts locked and close down Justice," the Chief Justice said.
"It is not any body's ego. It is the institution that suffers," the Chief Justice told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, reminding him that he was the leader of the bar and will have to play a constructive role.
"You want to lock out Justice?", the Chief Justice asked Rohatgi, who said that non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure was coming in the way of the government in clearing the recommendations.
At this, Chief Justice Thakur asked how then had the government cleared other names, pointing out that in the absence of a new Memorandum of Procedure appointments could be made on the basis of the old MoP.
As Attorney General Rohatgi said that the old MoP was contrary to the judgment of the court striking down National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and that the object of the new MoP was to bring the appointment procedure under light, the Chief Justice said if you insist that MoP must be finalised before appointment (of judges) then we will sit in a constitution bench and make it clear.
Telling Rohatgi that he was the leader of the bar, Chief Justice Thakur said, "We expect some more positive and constructive role from you."
The court directed further hearing of the matter on November 11, 2016.