Some complaints against judges are ‘shockingly false’, says SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said some allegations levelled against judges are shockingly false, as it heard a plea seeking appointment of ad-hoc or additional judges to High Court as per Article 224A of the Constitution.

A special bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya Kant emphasised that the position of a judge has to be made secure.

“We have seen allegations against judges which are shockingly false..You can easily knock out a judge if there is no security. There has to be security of tenure for ad hoc judges,” it noted.

In a measure to reduce the pendency of cases, the top court has voiced its support for tenure of two or more years for ad hoc judges if they are appointed in High Courts.

The bench said that frivolous complaints are often made when a judge is appointed, as it emphasised that it cannot put the entire system of appointment of ad hoc judges in question.

Article 224-A says that “the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a Judge of that Court or of any other High Court to sit and act as a Judge of the High Court for that State”.

During the hearing, the bench noted that ad hoc judges cannot be made vulnerable. The bench also did not agree with the contention of senior advocate Vikas Singh and other counsel that many former judges may not show interest, rather they would be more interested in other lucrative fields like arbitration.

“We think this decision should be left to the former judges. We cannot decide for them,” the bench noted.

It added that if retired judge thinks he has something better to take up, then the judge could simply decline the appointment. “If an ad hoc judge is appointed, then regular cases can be dealt by him and the Chief Justice can focus on important constitutional issues.”

The observations were made by the bench while hearing arguments on the modalities of appointments of ad hoc judges raised in a plea filed by NGO Lok Prahari. The petitioner sought appointment of additional judges in the high courts under Article 224A in order to reduce the pendency of cases.

After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court has reserved the verdict.