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The Supreme Court on Friday tore into the government for "scuttling" the working of judiciary by sitting over appointments of high court judges, triggering a fresh round of confrontation with the Centre. The Centre wants a greater say in the appointments with the right to reject the recommendations of the Supreme Court Collegium on appointments of high court judges.

When the AG defended the delay saying the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on judicial appointments has not been put in place, the Chief Justice said "The MoP is your red herring".

First appointed as a trial judge in 1999, Mr. Justice Rowe has sat on the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2001. "You can have the institution called the judiciary locked" it expressed in anguish. "It is sad that Memorandum of Procedure is being used by government as an instrument of blackmail", he said. "Finalisation of MoP has nothing to do with the appointment process in the judiciary", the bench, which also included Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said. "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.

The court fixed the matter for further hearing on November 11.

The apex court slammed the government for not appointing judges despite recommendations made by Collegium in this regard.

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Stating that the government is free to express its reservations, the bench said the government must return the names to Collegium instead of sitting on them.

The court added that it could not be a mute spectator to a situation where the executive's inaction was decimating the judiciary.

He has also sought a direction to consider and implement 245th report of the Law Commission on reforms in judiciary and to increase the judges strength and infrastructural facilities in courts in the country. Half of the courtrooms in Karnataka High Court are locked.

There are 4,432 vacancies of judges in subordinate courts in the country as on December 31, 2015, while the 24 high courts face a shortage of almost 450 judges.

"There should not be a deadlock in appointment of judges".

  • Megan Austin