CJI Ramana urges HCs to improve judge-to-population ratio

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday highlighted the issue of judicial vacancies and urged the chief justices of high courts to improve the judge-to-population ratio so that it is comparable to advanced democracies.

Ramana said as on today, out of 1,104 sanctioned posts of high court judges, there are 388 vacancies.

Speaking at a joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts at Vigyan Bhawan here, he said an important factor in promoting access to justice is filling up of judicial vacancies and increasing the sanctioned strength of judges.

“From day one, it has been my endeavor to fill judicial vacancies. We have made 180 recommendations for appointments in various high courts last year. Out of these, 126 appointments have been made. I thank the Government of India for clearing the names.

“However, 50 proposals are still awaiting approval by the Government of India. The high courts have sent around 100 names to the Government of India. They are yet to reach us. The data reveals the earnest efforts being made by the judiciary to fill the vacancies, “the CJI said.

He urged the chief ministers to extend “wholehearted” cooperation to the chief justices of high courts in their endeavor to strengthen the district judiciary.

“When we last met in 2016, the sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the country was 20,811. Now, it is 24,112, which is an increase of 16% in six years. On the other hand, in the corresponding period, pendency (of cases) in district courts has gone up from 2 crore 65 lakh to 4 crore 11 lakh, which is an increase of 54.64%. This data shows how inadequate the increase in the sanctioned strength is, “Ramana said.

The CJI said unless the foundation is strong, the structure cannot be sustained.

“Please be generous in creating more posts and filling the same, so that our judge-to-population ratio is comparable to advanced democracies. As per sanctioned strength, we have just around 20 judges per 10 lakh population, which is alarmingly low,” he said.

Referring to Attorney General KK Venugopal’s statement at a Supreme Court Bar Association event Friday, the CJI highlighted the issue of vacancies and pendency of cases.

Venugopal had said that 40 million cases are pending before trial courts, while 4.2 million civil cases and 1.6 million criminal cases are pending in high courts.

“How do you expect that we would be able to even make a dent in the pendency of cases,” he had said.

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