New Delhi: While the Supreme Court is working with its full sanctioned strength, vacancy of judges is on the rise in the 25 high courts of the country, according to latest Law Ministry data.

The figures released by the ministry on October 1 show that the high courts faced a shortage of 420 judges -- the highest till now this year.

As on October 1, the high courts were working with 659 judges as compared to the sanctioned strength of 1079.

In September, a total of 414 posts of judges are vacant in the 25 high courts.

Over 43 lakh cases are pending in the high courts. The figure was 409 in August and 403 in July, according to the data available in public domain.

A three-member Supreme Court collegium recommends names of candidates for appointment as high court judges. In case of appointments to the Supreme Court, the collegium consists of five top judges of the top court.

High court collegiums short list candidates for their respective high courts and send the names to the law ministry.

The ministry, along with background check reports by the Intelligence Bureau, forwards it to the Supreme Court collegium for a final call.

The government has maintained that appointment of judges in the high courts is a "continuous collaborative process" between the Executive and the Judiciary, as it requires consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities.

Vacancies keep arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of judges and increase in judges' strength. In June, the vacancy position stood at 399, while it was 396 in May.

In April, 399 posts of judges were vacant, while the figure was 394 in March. The vacancy position in February stood at 400 and in January, it was 392, according to the data collated by the Department of Justice.

Four new judges were appointed to the Supreme Court in September, taking its strength to 34, the highest-ever.