Court appointments: Vacancies must be filled to clear backlog of cases - The Tribune India

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Court appointments

Vacancies must be filled to clear backlog of cases

Court appointments

THE Supreme Court Collegium has approved the names of 13 advocates to be appointed as judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. - File photo



THE Supreme Court Collegium has approved the names of 13 advocates to be appointed as judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It is unusual for such a high number of advocates to be approved for posts of judge in a single instance. But such a measure was desperately needed as of the sanctioned strength of 85, the high court is currently operating with only 46 judges, and 18 of them are going to retire by December 2023. The court is facing a huge backlog of cases and the situation has become critical over the last couple of years due to the vacancies and the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 4.5 lakh cases are piled up before it. The story is similar in other courts across India.

In two sittings in a week, the SC Collegium cleared a total of 56 names for the posts of judge in nine high courts. In September 2021, the Collegium had recommended 65 names for the posts of judge in 12 high courts. Across India, as on July 1, as many as 381 posts of judge were vacant in 25 high courts, with 727 judges in position against the sanctioned strength of 1,108. The vacancy rate, which was edging close to 50 per cent in April 2021, has now been brought down to around 34 per cent. Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has been highlighting the issues of judicial vacancies and lack of infrastructure in seminars and lectures for some time. Earlier this month, at a seminar in Jaipur, he said: ‘In our criminal justice system, the process is the punishment. From hasty indiscriminate arrests to difficulty in obtaining bail, the process leading to prolonged incarceration of undertrials needs urgent attention.’

Justice Ramana has, time and again, blamed the executive and bureaucracy for deliberate inaction in making appointments in courts and tribunals. Also speaking in Jaipur, Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju vowed to bring down the total pendency from five crore cases to two crore in two years. For that to happen, the executive and judiciary must work in unison to address the pressing matters of vacancies and infrastructure.  

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