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Government returns 21 files related to confirmation of High Court judges

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government on Monday fired its first salvo after the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) for selection of judges by returning 21 files relating to confirmation of the high court judges to the apex court’s collegium.

Supreme Court

These additional judges from Karnataka, Kolkata and Andhra Pradesh/Telangana high courts were given three months’ extension by the government following an interim direction passed by the top court. The extension of these judges is going to end soon.

The government, however, cleared reappointment of only one Bombay High Court additional judge for another two years.

A highly placed government source told dna, “Except clearing the re-appointment of one high court judge for two years, 21 files were sent back to the Supreme Court collegium. Let the collegium decide what should be done next.”

“The government will wait for the collegium’s decision…,” the source told dna requesting anonymity.

These files are among more than 100 recommendations made by the Supreme Court collegium before the NJAC came into force in April this year. The government had put them to shelve.

The additional judges of high courts are appointed on a two-year contract. At the end of their contract, based on their conduct and performance, they are either elevated as permanent judges or released from judicial service.

It was the government which had argued before the Constitution bench that the deadlock over NJAC was creating a vacuum and could result in a crisis as there was a huge pendency of cases.

More than 44 lakh cases are currently pending in the country’s 24 high courts. In an interim-order in June, the apex court directed the Centre to grant three months extension to the judges whose contract was to expire during the hearing of the bunch of PILs challenging the constitutional validity of the NJAC.