New Delhi: With Chief Justice of India TS Thakur making an emotive appeal to the government to have more judges to ensure justice for all, a conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts on Sunday adopted a resolution to invoke a constitutional provision to appoint retired judicial officers as ad hoc judges.
The CJI announced that the conference adopted a resolution that Article 224 A will be invoked to allow chief justices of high courts to appoint retired judicial officers as ad hoc judges.
Addressing a conference of chief ministers, chief justices of high courts and Supreme Court judges, Chief Justice Thakur said India's judiciary suffered from a poor judge-population ratio and serious vacancies even as it dealt with an "avalanches of cases".
The CJI broke down to tears during his speech at Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts in Delhi.
In the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SJI Thakur lamented government's "inaction" in increasing the number of judges from the present 21,000 to 40,000 to handle the "avalanche" of litigations, saying, "It is not enough to criticise, you cannot shift the entire burden to the judiciary. If you compare performances of our judges to the other countries, we are head and shoulder above them."
The chief justice took on the government over the failure to come up with judicial reforms, said judges should be told to work extra years when they retire, and hit out at the "commercial courts".
"It is not enough to criticise. You can't shift the entire burden on judges," he said, pointing out that nine judges of the American Supreme Court together decided 81 cases in a year whereas a judge in the Indian Supreme Court decided 2,600 cases a year.
Modi offered to set up a committee of government officers and people from the judiciary to address the issues. "I will make efforts to address the serious concerns."
There are nearly 3 crore cases pending before the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, the 24 high courts and various subordinate courts.
He said these ad hoc judges will tackle criminal cases where appeals have not been heard for the past five years. These judges will be appointed for a period of two years or upto the time they attain the age of 65. The CJI said these judges can also preside over ‘holiday courts’ on Saturdays and Sundays.
In 1987, the government's Law Commission had said that India's judicial system needed 40,000 judges at different levels. Since then the country's population had increased by 30 crore people.
He recalled that when then chief justice Altmash Kabir told then prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2013 that nothing was being done to address the ills of the judicial system, the latter replied that it concerned state governments and they had no money.