We are in democratic country following rule of law, SC tells Centre on refusal to accept recommendations for tribunals
We are in a democratic country following the rule of law, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday taking strong objection to Attorney General K K Venugopals submission that the government has the power not to accept the recommendations of the Selection Committee for filling up vacancies at tribunals.It is under the Constitution that we are working.
''We are in a democratic country following the rule of law,'' the Supreme Court said on Wednesday taking strong objection to Attorney General K K Venugopal's submission that the government has the power not to accept the recommendations of the Selection Committee for filling up vacancies at tribunals.
''It is under the Constitution that we are working. You cannot say that,'' a special bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said.
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said that the appointments made by the Centre to some tribunals indicated ''cherry picking'' of names from the recommended lists of suitable candidates.
''We travelled across the country. We spent a lot of time. During Covid, your government requested us to conduct interviews as early as possible. We wasted so much time,'' said CJI Ramana expressing exasperation.
The bench further said: ''What is the sanctity of the process if the government has the last word? Selection committee undertakes an elaborate process to short-list the names.'' There are around 250 posts lying vacant in various key tribunals and appellate tribunals across the country.
Venugopal referred to Section 3(7) of The Tribunals Reforms Act which states that the Search-cum-Selection Committee shall recommend a panel of two names for appointment to the post of Chairperson or Member, as the case may be, and the central government shall take a decision on it, preferably within three months from the date of such recommendation.
He said provision has three parts -- it provides for a panel of two names, that the court has struck down, then it says the government will decide on the recommendations 'preferably within three months', which has been struck down; but that the central government shall take a decision on the recommendation made by the committee has not been struck down.
Responding to his submission, Justice Nageswara Rao said: ''For one post, there cannot be two names, but only one name must be recommended! And 'preferably within three weeks' has also been struck down.
''So you have to make the appointment within three months. But even after the selections were conducted and recommendations were made, you don't appoint them when you pick up people from the waitlist, which was prepared for the purpose of being used in the future?'' Venugopal said the government has the power not to accept the recommendations made and referred to the Collegium system regarding the High Courts and High Court judges.
He said the main list of recommendations has been exhausted and it is only after that the government has gone to the waiting list.
''So far as the vacancies are concerned, we have appointed from the waitlist also. The result is that there is not a single recommendation that is pending as regards six of the 15 Tribunals. For the remaining nine, the recommendation has not been made at all even though a search cum selection committee has been constituted,'' Venugopal said.
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