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Govt returns names of four additional judges to collegium

On a day the government brought in a new law ending the collegium system, it also sent back recommendations of the panel headed by Chief Justice of India for appointment of four additional judges to the Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh high courts.

New Delhi: On a day the government brought in a new law ending the collegium system, it also sent back recommendations of the panel headed by Chief Justice of India for appointment of four additional judges to the Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh high courts.

The names of four judges -- three for Madhya Pradesh and one for Himachal Pradesh -- were part of the bunch of recommendations made by the collegium.

Twenty-two of the names were accepted and orders issued by the government while the case of four was returned, sources said.

Under the old collegium system, if the government sends back proposals for reconsideration and if the judges panel reiterates is decision the government has to accept it.

But now, a piquant situation has arisen as the names returned by the government cannot go to any collegium as the system has ceased to exist with the notification of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and the accompanying Constitution Amendment Act.

Hereafter, the appointments will be done by the new body that will be constituted under the NJAC law in due course.

Another collegium recommendation accepted by the government was to transfer Justice Dhirendra Hiralal Waghela, Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court as the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.

Five additional judges in the Allahabad High Court were also elevated as permanent judges.

Against the total approved strength of 998 judges in the 24 high courts, there are 358 vacancies, as per the Department of Justice data.