25 per cent more judges in High Courts; views of Chief Justices’ sought by Sibal

25 per cent more judges in High Courts; views of Chief Justices’ sought by Sibal

The strength of judges in all High Courts has been increased by 25 per cent which would mean the number of judges will go up from 906 to 1,112, an attempt by the Centre to clear almost 40 lakh pending cases. Presently, there are 250 vacant positions in the High Courts. Considering the proposed increase in the strength, an additional 206 new vacancies have to be filled. Under the government proposal, the strength of judges in the Allahabad High Court will go up from 160 to 200; Andhra Pradesh 49 to 61; Bombay 75 to 94; Calcutta 58 to 72; Madras 60 to 75; Delhi 48 to 60; Karnataka 50 to 62; Kerala 38 to 47; Punjab and Haryana 68 to 85; and Patna 43 to 53.

In April last year a conference of the Chief Justices of the High Courts and the Chief Ministers was held, wherein it was decided to increase the total approved strength of each High Court by 25 per cent. Besides requesting to increase the number of judges in the High Courts, a letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was sent by Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam requesting the government to provide necessary infrastructure also which was accepted by the government. In fact Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal sent letters to the Chief Justices of the High Courts requesting them to send proposals for filling the vacancies.

Considering the sufficient timelines for filling the existing vacancies for permanent and additional judges; the probability of the proposed increase in judge strength; scrutinizing whether the increased number of judges can be housed in the existing court infrastructure and residential quarters; and framing proposals, if required, for strengthening the existing court room infrastructure, Mr. Sibal sought the views of the Chief Justices and wanted the Chief Justices to discuss the matter with the State governments.