Centre notifies appointment of 17 judges across 8 HCs
On Wednesday, the Center announced the appointment of 17 judges to eight different High Courts and the transfer of 16 judges to various other High Courts, including the Manipur High Court’s acting Chief Justice. Days after the Supreme Court voiced its disapproval of the delay in the appointment and transfer of High Court judges, the action was taken.
What is the recent development in the delay of the appointment of the Judges?
- High Court Judge Appointments and Transfers:
- Notification from the Government: 16 judges have been transferred to different High Courts and 17 judges have been appointed to various High Courts, as officially announced by the Indian government.
- Supreme Court’s Concerns: In response to the Supreme Court’s concerns, the government decided to nominate and transfer judges. The Supreme Court has expressed disapproval at the wait for these transfers and appointments.
- Basis of Recommendations: The Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendations were made based on consultations with colleagues and assessments of the fitness and suitability of the recommended advocates for appointment as judges.
How are the Judges appointed in India?
- Appointment of Judges: Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President following consultation with the Chief Justice of India and other senior judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, according to Article 124 of the Indian Constitution.
- Evolution of the collegium System: The Bar Council of India’s recommendations from 1981 are what gave rise to the idea of the collegium system, in which a group of judges recommend nominations to the President.
- Second Judges’ Case (1993): In this case, the Chief Justice of India and the senior-most judges were consulted before the President was appointed, overturning the earlier process of appointment. With the opinions of senior judges taken into consideration, the Chief Justice’s judgement was regarded as collective.
- Third Judges’ Case (1998): A nine-judge panel improved the collegium structure in this case. The collegium, which consists of the Chief Justice and the four senior-most Supreme Court judges, should be consulted before the Chief Justice forms an opinion, the document emphasised. Senior judges from the pertinent high courts were also asked for their opinions in writing.
- Composition of the collegium: The collegium system, which was developed in India, was originally intended to have a broad base and incorporate representation from many authorities. However, only judges of the higher courts remained in the final composition.
- the Collegium System’s rules: The Third Judges’ Case specified a number of rules for the collegium system, such as the significance of consensus in recommendations, taking judges’ seniority into account, and offering compelling justifications for a candidate.
- Collegium System Criticisms: The collegium system has been criticised for its narrow representation and lack of extensive engagement with non-judicial bodies. These concerns highlight the requirement for changes to increase accountability and openness in the appointment process.
- Justifications for the Collegium System: Despite its flaws, we might contend that the collegium system is the best way to protect judicial independence and public confidence in the judiciary within the confines of the Indian constitutional framework. It guarantees that judges’ independence and qualifications are taken into consideration while making appointments.
What are the two major problems faced by the Courts in India?
- Backlog of Cases: One of the biggest obstacles was the huge backlog of cases in the nation’s courts. Due to the backlog, it frequently took years to resolve cases, which delayed the administration of justice.
- Overburdened Judiciary: There were too few judges and too many cases for the Indian judiciary to handle. Hearings and case resolution were delayed as a result of this.
Why is there a shortage of Judges in India?
- Growing Caseload: Over the years, the Indian judiciary has had to deal with a growing caseload. The present court infrastructure is under a great deal of strain as a result of the increasing number of litigation proceedings, including civil, criminal, and constitutional disputes.
- Delay in Appointment: The procedure of appointing judges in India is frequently drawn out and can involve bureaucratic obstacles and delays. The Collegium system, which involves judges heavily in the selection of new judges, has occasionally come under fire for causing delays. Even if the collegium system suggests names for the post, the government then wastes precious time by not appointing.
- High Attrition Rates: A high attrition rate might result from judges who retire at a young age. The scarcity is made worse by the need to fill the positions left vacant by retiring judges.
- Vacancies at Different Levels: There are openings in lower courts as well as the higher courts (the High Courts and the Supreme Court). Vacancies in lower courts are especially important because they hear the majority of the cases.
- Lack of Adequate Infrastructure: Many Indian courts lack the resources and support staff required to conduct cases effectively. This can prevent people from applying for judicial positions.
What is the way forward in this issue?
- Increase the Number of Judges: To keep up with the rising caseload, the government should think about expanding the sanctioned strength of judges in both the upper and lower judiciary.
- Streamline the Appointment Process: It is important to improve the appointment process’ efficiency and openness. It can be beneficial to lessen administrative red tape and wait times when appointing judges, especially at higher levels.
- Strengthen the Collegium System: By ensuring that proposals for judicial appointments are issued swiftly and based on merit, the Collegium system can be made more effective. Additionally, the system can be made more transparent.
- Judicial Appointments on a Fast Track: Consider expediting judge appointments, particularly for open seats in subordinate courts where the backlog of cases is frequently the greatest.
- Encourage Judiciary Careers: Increase the appeal of a career in the judiciary by luring top legal talent with competitive pay, perks, and retirement plans.
- Upgrading Infrastructure: Spend money on enhancing the court system’s infrastructure, which includes building new courtrooms, installing cutting-edge equipment, and recruiting enough support staff.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Encourage the use of ADR techniques to settle conflicts outside of the official court system, such as mediation and arbitration. Court caseloads may be lowered as a result of this.