5 Feb 2023 12:10 PM GMT
The Union Law Minister’s public comments about appointment of judges and the judicial pendency, though, raise genuine concerns about the system of administration of justice in India but probably though inappropriate forum and for sure a misplaced concern. The concern should be the qualitative and quantitative improvement of Judgeship in India. These issues undoubtedly warrant...
The Union Law Minister’s public comments about appointment of judges and the judicial pendency, though, raise genuine concerns about the system of administration of justice in India but probably though inappropriate forum and for sure a misplaced concern. The concern should be the qualitative and quantitative improvement of Judgeship in India. These issues undoubtedly warrant healthy discussions and concrete steps. Healthy discussion also includes in it the “informed discussion”.
When we talk about appointment of Judges, should the primary concern not be regarding the parameters of selection or qualitative qualifications of a Judge instead of the agency of selection? If the selection criterion are well in place, it becomes immaterial as who is the appointing authority. In order to decide the parameters for qualification, first thing is to ascertain the qualities required for judgeship i.e. Integrity, Free from prejudice and personal beliefs, Philosophy and Priorities of life, Value System etc. Then are needed the devices and systems to evaluate it, which is not so difficult in modern times, thanks to the development in technology and psychological analysis methods. Once the system to analyse the presence of requisite qualities and qualifications of judges for the appointment of judges is in place, I am sure, the pillars of democracy will loose interest in dominating the procedures of appointment.
Second limb of concern is the quantitative improvement i.e. severe deficiency of judicial infrastructure in terms of number of judges and the infrastructure for the administration of justice. Judicial Pendency has been one of the most debated issues for decades and probably used as a tool for criticizing the judiciary as an institution.
Looking at the statistics, on an average, we have a sanctioned strength of 21 Judges per million people that is roughly one judge for fifty thousand people in District Courts. If we see the actual strength considering the vacancies the ratio will further increase. For High Courts, the sanctioned strength is total 1098 judges for the 25 High Court. The Judge – Population ratio for High Court Judges is 1098 judges for 1.5 Billion people that would be one Judge for around thirteen lakh people.At present about 30 % seats of even the sanctioned strength are vacant. Coming to Supreme Court, with a sanctioned strength of 34 Judges for 1.5 Billion population, the ratio would be 1 Judge for around 4 Crore people.
We would not compare these figures with America, UK and other developed countries for the moment. Rather let us compare these statistics with the most populated country China. China has more than 300 Judges for 1 million people i.e. roughly 1 judge for every 3000 people. I am comparing with China because we are demographically by and large similar to China. UK and US are far less populated than us.
It is the responsibility of Government to provide for adequate strength and infrastructure, in which, it has miserably failed. Government cannot blame the judiciary for pending cases with the present judge - people ratio. With this kind of critically deficient infrastructure and growing litigation, it is not only the loosing moral ground of the government to comment over the judiciary but also an alarm bell pointing towards the collapsing system, with which the Judiciary has dealt with so far in the best possible manner.
With the lack of required strength, burden and infrastructure, the performance of Indian Judiciary has been commendable It has placed itself as the most reliable and trust worthy pillar of democracy despite having severely scarce resources.
Both, these aspect of quantitative and qualitative enhancement in judicial infrastructure and judiciousness in Judges needs urgent attention and honest combined efforts of legislature and judiciary. We cannot rely anymore on the colonial uniform system of selection by examining the general studies and theoretical knowledge of the subject for all the pivotal posts of governance whether it be IAS, IRS, IFS, a CEO of a Judge. It needs to be evolved further towards evaluation of the qualities required for the particular service and that too through psychological and practical evaluation techniques instead of a formal examination, where exam can be qualified by prepared answers and interview techniques. Tools to evaluate the qualities are required to be developed. For judicial officers Tools to gauge and evaluate judicial temperament, integrity, fairness, judiciousness, and free from prejudices.