Shortage of judges hinders our work: CJI J S Khehar
Chief Justice of India J S Khehar expressed anguish on Wednesday over lack of judges in the Supreme Court, which is affecting its functioning and increasing pendency of cases, but assured that new judges would soon be appointed to deal with the problem. The total sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court is 31, including the CJI, and there are eight vacancies of judges, meaning that the apex court is working with only 75% of its strength.
The Chief Justice hinted that he would soon convene a meeting of the collegium to finalise names which would be forwarded to the Centre for appointment as judges of the SC. The appointment process has been hampered due to the tussle between the Executive and Judiciary over the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges in the aftermath of SC verdict quashing the NJAC and reviving the collegium system.
Last year four judges—Justices A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and L Nageswara Rao —were appointed in the SC while six judges---Justices M Y Eqbal, F M I Kalifulla, C Nagappan, Gopala Gowda, Shiva Kirti Singh and A R Dave —demitted office after retirement. Former CJI T S Thakur retired on January 3, taking the total number of vacancies to 8. The strength of SC over the years has not increased in proportion to the number of cases filed in the apex court.
The SC started with only eight judges but the strength was increased five times over the years and in 2009, it was increased to 31. Many former judges had admitted in open court that they were suffering from "burnt-out" syndrome because of the workload.
OUR TAKEThe SC is the highest judicial forum in India. Consisting of the CJI and 30 other judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions. As per the latest report, there are 60,938 cases pending in the SC till September 2016. In 2016, 59,386 cases were filed in the SC while the court disposed of 57,720 cases last year. If the vacancy of 8 judges is not filed soon than more and more cases will remain pending in the court which will hamper the delivery of justice.
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