Sharing Chief Justice of India T S Thakur’s concern over “delay” in appointment of judges, retired Supreme Court Judge N Santosh Hegde Saturday warned that it may lead to “all types of systems” like underground elements coming to fore for “settling” disputes. Hegde said in almost all high courts, pending vacancy of judges is 50 per cent. “As it is, there is a delay of 10 to 15 years (in disposing of cases). What will happen in the days to come? People will lose faith in the system,” he told PTI.
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“Once people lose faith in the system then all types of systems will come into existence, underground people would say they would settle the dispute, recovery of bad loans, ‘goondas’ (goons) go and take over and do so called ‘justice’,” he said.
In a scathing attack, the Supreme Court Friday said the government can not bring the judiciary to a “grinding halt” by not appointing high court judges despite the recommendations of its collegium long ago.
The government has, however, insisted that it has increased the sanctioned strength of high court judges from 906 to 1,079 and there has been no abnormal increase in the vacancies in the high courts under NDA rule.
Hegde, a former Solicitor General of India, said if the government is not agreeable to some names, they can send them back to the collegium citing reasons and the collegium would then consider it and “if it (collegium) says it (names) should be done (approved), the government is bound to accept it”.
“They (government) are now harping on MoP (Memorandum of Procedure) or something, not yet drafted. All that cannot be an excuse for the purpose of filling up of vacancies. As it is, the lot of delay is causing problems to litigants,” he said.
“It takes 10 to 15 years in the first court, second court and third court and then Supreme Court (to dispose of cases),” Hedge pointed out, adding, “by the time finality (judgement comes) is reached, people are tired of the whole exercise.”
“They (Supreme Court and government) should sit together and thrash out the problem,” he said, adding the Chief Justice had sent the names to the government three to four months back.
He said Allahabad High Court has 60 per cent vacancies, and Karnataka HC has 50 per cent.
“No high court in the country has full strength. How do you expect justice delivery to go on early? That’s the expectation of all litigants,” asked Hegde.
Taking into consideration the urgency because of the number of vacancies and consequential delay in disposal of cases, government should take some steps to at least clear pending names, asserted Hegde.