New Delhi: Amid a tussle between the government and the Supreme Court Collegium over the issue of appointment of judges, a parliamentary panel has asked the executive and the judiciary to sit together and “find a new way” to deal with the “daily problem” of vacancies in high courts.

The panel said, “It is regrettable that the government and the judiciary have not complied with the time to fill up the posts of judges.”

The Standing Committee on Law and Personnel, in its report tabled in Parliament, said it does not agree with the observations of the Department of Justice in the Union Law Ministry that “the timing of filling up of posts of judges in the higher judiciary cannot be indicated”. This time limit has also been drawn up in the case of other judges and also in the Memorandum of Procedure regarding the appointment of judges.

“However, it is regrettable that both the judiciary and the executive have not ensured compliance of the limit at this juncture, which is causing undue delay in filling up the posts,” the committee added in the report.

As per the data provided by the government, as on December 31, 2021, more than 50 per cent posts (of sanctioned capacity) in the three high courts of Telangana, Patna and Delhi and more than 40 per cent of the posts in ten high courts were lying vacant, the report said.

“All these are big states where the judge-population ratio is already not good and the vacancies of so many posts is a matter of great concern,” the parliamentary panel, headed by senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, said.

The committee said the government and the judiciary “must find a way out of line to deal with the day-to-day problem of vacancies in the high courts”.

The committee said it was “shocked” that the Supreme Court and the government have so far failed to arrive at a consensus on the review of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on appointment of judges to the supreme court and high courts even though the issue has been pending with both the parties “for the last seven years”.

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