New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Emphasising the need for appointing more judges, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur on Sunday questioned why the IB and other agencies took so long to verify the antecedents of those recommended for appointment as judges.
“Why should the Intelligence Bureau take months (for verification of those recommended by the Supreme Court collegium)? Why not the IB be told by the prime minister and the Prime Minister’s Office to send the report (on their verification) in 15 days,” wondered the chief justice while talking to the media after a daylong conference of the chief ministers and chief justices of different high courts.
CJI Thakur said the huge backlog of cases can’t be tackled with the present strength of judges and working extra hours, but through appointment of more judges.
“In our view, the only solution of the problem is to increase the strength of the judges. We are not saying this. The government’s own law commission is saying that the country’s judiciary needs 40,000 judges.”
CJI Thakur said this was the situation way back in 1987 and the figure definitely has gone up in 2016.
He said that proposals for the appointment of 170 judges are pending with the government for the past two months and “I don’t know at what stage the proposals are clogged”.
“Of the 145 proposals cleared by the government, 90 percent are sitting additional judges and only 50 new judges have been appointed. This, in no way, has reduced the vacancies.”
“I don’t think there is a problem as such. The government is resourceful. It can have more hands. After all, the proposal (for appointing judges) comes from the chief justice of the high court, passing through the chief minister and the governor. Why should the IB (then) take months in undertaking the verification?” he said.
“The secretariat of the chief justice of India must know where the proposal is (lying). I must know whether the secretary (in the ministry) is sitting (on the proposal) or the IB. Whatever you have to say, say it clearly and tell us if a person is not acceptable. People are crying for justice.”
Addressing the media along with Union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, CJI Thakur said the high courts were working with 50 percent of their sanctioned strength of judges.
He said the apex court’s response to the revised memorandum of procedure for the appointment of judges would be sent to the government early next week.
Responding to a query on the prime minister’s suggestion to set up a committee comprising government officials and the representatives of the judiciary, the chief justice wondered what this committee would do.
Regarding cutting down on holidays and putting in extra hours of work, he said the judges’ work was very stressful.
“We don’t go to Manali or for trekking during vacations. The vacations are spent writing judgments. So, when judges come to court after vacations, the backlog of their earlier work is over.”
He pointed out that Justice J.S. Khehar and four other judges of the Supreme Court spent their entire vacations hearing a bunch of petitions against the constitutional validity of the National Judicial Appointments Commission.
Asked why he became emotional during his speech at the inaugural session of the conference, CJI Thakur said he had spent 45 years in the judiciary (22 as a lawyer and 23 years as a judge) and was committed to the system.
“Emotions indicate some sensitivity. A person should not be so emotional (but one can’t help) if at the end of the career, (one finds) things are the same,” he said.