Raking up the judges appointment issue once again, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Friday said vacancies in the judiciary, especially state High Courts have become a national challenge, and efforts were being made to persuade the government to expedite the matter.
“We have been talking very often about pendency of cases in the courts. 80 per cent of the backlog is in eight to nine states. Uttar Pradesh, largest state in terms of population has alone 25 per cent of total pendency followed by other states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Burden of backlog on the account of these states brings entire judiciary under criticism as the backlog is huge,” said Justice Thakur.
Speaking at a function after the inauguration of hostel block of State Judicial Academy and laying foundation stone of the National Law University at Ghandal near Shimla, the CJI said there have been several problems in the matter of appointments of judges and vacancies have really become a national challenge.
“Except Himachal Pradesh, which was perhaps an ideal High Court with 11 judges against sanctioned strength of 13, other states including my home state – J&K, there are just eight judges working of total strength of 17, ie just 50 per cent. Other good example is Kerala, where number of vacancies is low, but elsewhere the position was not as good,” he said.
Justice Thakur termed functioning of Himachal Pradesh High Court as creditable, where the pendency of the cases have been brought down from 59,133 to 30,509, almost 50 per cent even as he claimed that states with high literacy have highest number of cases being filed in courts. After Kerala, which also has high literacy followed by Himachal Pradesh, there was per capita highest number of cases. Here he also mentioned about Jharkhand, a state with low literacy as compared to Kerala and Himachal Pradesh will low litigations.
About setting-up of judicial academy with state-of-the-art facilities and a sprawling campus costing Rs 165 crores, Justice Thakur stressed the need for optimum use of the facility as investing a huge sum only after 135 judicial officers training was unfair and criminal as money has to be spared from public services like drinking water supply, roads, health and public hygiene. He asked for making the facilities of training open to other services like officers discharging quasi judicial functions, law students and public.
“Some training modules should be drawn for officers discharging quasi judicial functions otherwise it will look like having invested so much money and place remains underutilised,” he stressed.
Responding to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s plea for helping the state to get additional funding of nearly Rs 100 crore for proposed National Law university, Justice Thakur said this was a matter where CJI normally doesn’t intervenes. “Yet, I will take up the matter with Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and Union Finance minister to for getting additional funding. It’s also because of the fact that Himachal Pradesh was home state of my wife,” he said.
Earlier, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed concern over the pendency of cases as it deprives the people of speedy justice.
“With progress and prosperity, new type of litigations were coming to the courts as accident cases which were occupying lots of time of courts and other constitutional issues were arising thereby it becomes imperative that the courts are strengthened with staff and fully equipped,” he said.
The CM said that despite big expansion in Judicial set up in the state, the pendency of cases had increased and added that it was the duty of High Court to clear the pendency immediately.
Virbhadra Singh said that there had been a marked improvement in functioning of courts disposal of cases despite the number of cases keep on increasing.
Earlier Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh, Justice Mansoor Ahmed Mir said that judicial education was essential for enhancing the quality and improving the standards of justice, adding that independence of judiciary depends upon public confidence depends upon judges doing their jobs well.
He said that judicial academies were responsible for planning and providing initial and continuous training for judges and court officers to enhance the quality of dispensation of Justice.
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