New Delhi: Chief Justice-designate Justice T.S. Thakur on Wednesday said appointing suitable and good judges was a major challenge, as people feel that by junking the NJAC "we have taken upon ourselves the task to appoint judges to higher judiciary".
"This institution is perhaps facing its biggest challenges today which it has not faced in the past," Justice Thakur said while speaking at the farewell function for outgoing Chief Justice H.L. Dattu.
He said striking down the constitutional amendment for setting up of National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) that aimed to reform the system of appointment of judges to higher judiciary "has been commented upon differently by different people".
"Whatever the logic of the judgement (holding NJAC unconstitutional and void and restoring the collegium system), that is now the law of the land. But the fallout of the judgement is that it has made the job of superior courts of this country more onerous and difficult," Justice Thakhur said.
"People today feel that judiciary has claimed itself to appoint the judges, then let them live up to the expectations," he said while describing it as a "major challenge".
Justice Thakur said there were 400 vacancies to be filled up and it was difficult to find suitable candidate for appointment as judges.
Justice Thakur, to be sworn in as the Chief Justice on India by the President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday, said 2016 would be devoted to Clearance of Arrears in the courts while pointing out that "Arrears remained a formidable challenge".
He said Justice Dattu's efforts have reduced the arrears in the Supreme Court from 64,000 cases to 58,000 but critics outside always point out those three crore cases which are pending in different courts of the country.
Addressing a suggestion by the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the Supreme Court bar had a reservoir of talented lawyers and some of them could be picked up from it for appointment as judges, Justice Thakur said: "I assure that whenever any candidate who can be picked up from supreme court bar itself for elevation will be considered."
On post retirement assignments for judges, Justice Thakur said: "What I feel is that judges are very valuable human resources, so long as the resources are available to the country for service to cause of justice ait will be a great loss to let such resource go waste."