No data to fix strength of judges: Law Minister Gowda

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Wednesday said there was no scientific data available to calculate the strength of judges in proportion to the population, indicating that it could be based on workload on the courts.

“No scientific data is available. It may be possible on the number of cases,” the minister said when asked about Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur’s view that the government must increase the number of judges from existing strength of 21,000 to 40,000.

To buttress his point, the law minister referred to the Report 245 of the Law Commission which had pointed to the absence of complete and scientific approach to data collection on the number of judges and disposal of cases.

The minister said that while the number of cases have in the recent past increased by 17 percent, the number of judicial officers have increased by 42 percent and the working strength of judicial officers by 37 percent.

Gowda was addressing the media on the achievements of the Ministry of Law and Justice in the last two years since Narendra Modi took over as prime minister.

Putting the ball back in the court of judiciary, the minister said there were too many adjournments that contributed to delays and backlog of cases. He said that in Rajasthan there were 12 to 42 adjournments in civil cases and in Odisha it was as high as 50.

Clearing the cloud that the government or delay in the formulation of the revised memorandum of procedure (MoP) was coming in the way of the appointment of judges to the high courts, Gowda said that in January he had written to the Chief Justice of India that the fresh appointment of judges could proceed on the basis of old memorandum of procedure.

The fresh MoP is being put in place as apex court’s Constitution bench after nixing the NJAC on October 16, 2015, had asked the government to formulate a fresh MoP that would make appointment of judges transparent and criteria-based.

Giving the break-up of the appointment of judges for the high courts, including four recent appointments to the apex court, the minister said that another 170 recommendations for the appointment of judges to the high courts were with various constitutional authorities including the chief ministers.

Gowda also referred to various initiatives taken by his ministry for facilitating business, better management of litigation, ‘minimum government maximum governance’ and ‘digital India’.

He said that out of 1,870 archaic laws, in past two years 1,175 have been moved out of the statute book.

On reducing the number of tribunals, the law minister said the major exercise for convergence of tribunals would witness the number of tribunals coming down from 36 to just 17.

He, however, refused to comment on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s demand seeking ouster of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

The minister also parried question on the government’s ordinance on NEET.



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