New Delhi: There is no proposal to increase the number of Supreme Court judges but steps have been taken to raise the number of judges in the 24 High Courts by 25 per cent, the government informed Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda also blamed the present collegium system of appointment of judges for existing vacancies in the High Courts.
Responding to a question on the 'meagre' strength of women judges, he said while there is one woman judge in the Supreme Court, their strength is 55 in the 24 High Courts where the total working strength of judges is 635.
"There is no proposal to increase the judge strength of the Supreme Court," Gowda said in a written reply.
While the approved strength of the apex court is 31, there are three vacancies as on November 10.
He, however, informed the House that following a resolution passed by a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts in April last year, efforts are on to increase the strength of judges by 25 per cent per High Court.
After increasing the number of judges in High Courts of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand between July and October this year, the present strength stands at 984.
"A large number of vacant posts of judges is one of the several reasons in slowing down the process of expeditious disposal of cases," he said.
Referring to the Supreme Court judgment of October 6, 1993 and its advisory opinion of October 28, 1998 which led to the present collegium system of judges appointing judges, Gowda said, "In this arrangement, a number of posts have remained vacant for want of proposals to fill the positions."