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Photo: Pradeep Gaur
Photo: Pradeep Gaur

SC issues notice to centre on doubling number of judges

India has about 13-15 judges per million population, according to estimates. A petition puts this number at 11 judges per million population

New Delhi: The Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to the centre to double the number of judges in the country.

A bench comprising chief justice T.S. Thakur and justice R. Banumathi asked the centre to respond to the petition. “We are issuing notice in this case," the court said.

India has about 13-15 judges per million population, according to estimates. The petition puts this number at 11 judges per million population.

With over 30 million cases pending, there is huge pressure on judges to clear cases. Fewer judges add to case backlog.

The petition also sought a directive to speed up judicial reforms, adding that fair trial and speedy justice were essential to ensure the fundamental right to life under Article 21.

Mint has reviewed a copy of the petition. “Access to fair, fast, equal and uniform justice is deeply rooted in the concept of democracy and regarded as a basic human right," said the petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Delhi spokesperson and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.

Both the judiciary and the executive have been talking about the issue of shortage of judges and rising pendency of cases.

In April, chief justice Thakur, speaking at a joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts, which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, beseeched the centre to “rise to the occasion" and accept responsibility for the huge backlog of cases. He said a judge in India on an average handle 2,600 cases a year.

The PIL seeks implementation of the 245th report of the Law Commission of India released in July 2014 which recommended that judges be appointed on a priority basis to tackle the rising number of litigations. “Given the large number of judges required to clear backlog and the time that it will take to complete selection and training processes and to create adequate infrastructure, the Law Commission recommends that the recruitment of new judges should focus, as a matter of priority, on the number of judges required to break-even and to dispose of the backlog, in a three-year time frame," the report said.

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