oppn parties CJI Has Good Suggestions For Clearing Backlog of Cases In HCs And SC

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  • Centre sanctions Rs 15000cr for Covid19 emergency response, part of it immediately and the rest over a period of four years in mission mode
  • RBI says Covid-19 has "drastically altered" the growth outlook in India
  • Third coronavirus death in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai
  • Odisha becomes the first state to extend the lockdown until April 30. Schools and colleges in the state to remain closed until June 17th
  • The Supreme Court orders all coronavirus testing, including by private labs, to be done for free, says will look into the matter of reimbursement for private players at a later date
  • Former Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar proposes an Indo-Pak ODI series to raise funds for fighting coronavirus
  • Maharashtra government says many Tablighi Jamaat members who attended the Markaz and returned have gone into hiding
  • West Bengal government identifies hotspots in Kolkata and the rest of the state, inclined to extend the lockdown in those places only
  • Prime Minister Modi holds a video conference with floor leaders of opposition parties, hints at extending the lockdown
  • UP seals hotspots and makes masks mandatory
  • Masks made compulsory in Mumbai, violators will be arrested
  • ICMR says an infected person can infect 406 people in 30 days without social distancing and lockdown
  • Stock markets make a smart recovery. Sensex up by record 2476 points on global cues
  • Schools, colleges and shopping malls likely to remain closed for a further period of one month, says empowered group of ministers
  • PM Modi tells BJP workers that India is in for a long battle against the coronavirus and there is no scope to feel tired or defeated
Total Covid-19 cases rise to 5734 on Thursday and the death toll stands at 166, says the health ministry in its daily briefing
oppn parties
CJI Has Good Suggestions For Clearing Backlog of Cases In HCs And SC

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

The Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, has written two letters to the Prime Minister suggesting increasing the bench strength of the Supreme Court and fixing the retirement age of High Court judges from at 65 (from the present 62 years). In a third letter, the CJI has sought that retired SC and HC judges be given tenure appointments under Articles 128 and 224A of the constitution respectively so that they can be assigned pending cases. All of them are good suggestions and the government should seriously consider them and make the necessary constitutional amendments to implement them.

The Supreme Court currently has a bench strength of 31 judges which is highly inadequate given the size of the judiciary in the country. There are 24 High Courts in India at present and this number might increase in the future given the trend of carving out smaller states. Decisions of high courts are usually challenged in the apex court. Even if we keep two judges for every high court, we need 48 judges in the apex court. Since the formalities involved in increasing the bench strength are long and need the amending of the constitution, the government will do well to raise it to 50 at one go. It is true that a lot of cost is involved, in creating additional infrastructure and the salaries to be paid, but given the backlog of cases, a kneejerk response of increasing it by 4 or five judges will not do.

The current retirement age of high court judges at 62 years is discriminatory as Supreme Court judges retire at 65. Since judges are elevated from the high court to the Supreme Court, the three year gap in retirement age means that many good high court judges do not get elevated to the apex court. Hence, it will be good if the retirement age of high court judges is raised to 65. In fact, since retired judges are sought to be recalled under Articles 128 and 224A, one feels that it will be better if the retirement age of all SC and HC judges is fixed at 68 years.

The CJI has highlighted that there are over 58669 lakh cases pending in the Supreme Court, out of which 26 cases are pending for 25 years, 100 cases for 20 years, 593 cases for 15 years and 4977 cases for 10 years. In addition, there are 43 lakh cases pending in the 24 high courts of the country. There are also huge vacancies in all the high courts. 399 judges need to be appointed to the HCs to complete the sanctioned bench strength, which means there is 37% shortage of judges.

The government must look into the matter and take steps to first fill the vacancies in the HCs and then increase the age of retirement of both HC and SC judges. To clear the backlog of cases, it must also think of recruiting retired judges under Articles 128 and 224A. Pending cases mean justice is being delayed and it has an adverse impact on the faith in the judiciary and the judicial system. The government must rectify the situation at the earliest.