Almost six months after the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers of the States and Chief Justices of the High Courts, held on April 24, the Centre has finally cleared the minutes of the meeting. Among the important decisions is the go-ahead to avail the services of retired high court judges, “subject to integrity, suitability and performance”, as judges of high courts under Article 224-A of the Constitution.
Article 224A of the Constitution provides for appointment of additional and acting Judges by the President to deal with increase in arrears or unavailability of full-time judges. Ever since the landmark NJAC judgment last year, through which a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the NJAC Act, the lack of enough judges, especially in view of the NDA Government sitting over recommendations by the collegium for long periods, and large number of vacancies has become a major point of confrontation between the Supreme Court and the Narendra Modi government.
Another important decision is to increase the strength of the subordinate judiciary by 10 per cent every year.
Observing that 32 per cent of the districts in the country don’t have children homes and 70 per cent don’t have shelter homes, the conference has asked the state government to ensure that every district is equipped with a child protection unit, shelter homes and children homes.
As first reported by The Indian Express in July, even the minutes of meeting of the CM & CJs Conference were struck due to differences over some clauses. Previous Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda had decided against accepting the minutes of meeting cleared by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, seeking changes to some points that he felt didn’t “properly reflect” the deliberations at the conference.