The Minister of Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad answered questions regarding the appointment of judges on February 04, 2021. According to the minister, there are a total of 419 vacancies for high court judges in the country. State-wise distribution of these vacancies was also presented in the parliament under the attached annexure. Apart from this, a total of 4 vacancies exists in the Supreme Court of India. The minister also specified the number of recommendations received by the concerned ministry. These recommendations are related to the elevation of judges to the Supreme court and respective high courts.
The minister on Thursday, February 4, 2021, announced that a total of 419 high court vacancies for judges exist in the country. Of these, Allahabad has the highest number of vacancies which is 64. On the other hand, Manipur, Meghalaya and Sikkim have zero vacancies. The state of Tripura has just one vacancy. As of February 1, 2021, the Supreme court has a total of 4 vacancies for judges.
Ravi Shankar Prasad also informed the parliament that in the last three years from 2018 to 2020, the Supreme Court Collegium (SCC) had made a total of 18 recommendations for the elevation of judges to the Supreme Court. Subsequently, all these recommendations made to the ministry were appointed. The Memorandum of Procedure for appointing high court judges dictates certain instructions to the government while filling those vacancies. According to the Memorandum, the government can only appoint individuals recommended by the SCC as judges of High Courts.
During the period of the last three years, the High Court Collegiums (HCCs) made a total of 505 recommendations. Out of these, 177 names were also recommended by the SCC and thus, appointed as High Court Judges by the government. Out of the list of recommendations, SCC rejected a total of 134 names. A total of 194 proposals given by HCCs across the country are still under various stages of deliberation with the SCC and the government.
The minister further went on to clarify that filling up vacancies and appointing judges to High Courts is a continuous process. The process is also integrated and collaborated between the Executive and Judicial bodies of India. Furthermore, the appointment requires consultations and approval from multiple constitutional authorities. These authorities exist at both state and central level. Efforts are constantly made to fill these vacancies with utmost speed and efficiency. However, these high court vacancies continue to rise due to resignation, retirement or elevation of judges. They may also arise due to an elevation in the number of judges, clarified the minister.