Ap­point­ing Retd Judges as Ad hoc Hailed ‘Rev­o­lu­tion­ary’

De­ci­sion taken af­ter chief min­is­ters of var­i­ous states ac­cept pro­posal

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

IN A LET­TER TO DATTU

New Delhi: On Sun­day, af­ter the cul­mi­na­tion of the Chief Jus­tices Con­fer­ence, some se­nior judges de­scribed the de­ci­sion taken to ap­point re­tired judges as ad hoc judges as a “vic­tory” that will bring “rev­o­lu­tion­ary change” in the dis­posal of ail­ing cases. The de­ci­sion was taken af­ter chief min­is­ters of var­i­ous states ac­cepted the pro­posal.

The “rev­o­lu­tion­ary” idea, it has emerged,was­moot­ed­bytheModigov­ern­ment to then Chief Jus­tice of In­di­aHLDat­tuo­ver­se­v­en­months back. Union law min­is­ter Sadananda Gowda had writ­ten a let­ter to Dattu on Septem­ber 21, 2015, sug­gest­ing ap­point­ment of re­tired judges as ad hoc judges. The idea was mooted by Gowda af­ter a re­tired high court judge of Ra­jasthan, Shiv Kumar Sharma, wrote a let­ter to PM Modi. In his let­ter dated Au­gust 22, 2015, Sharma had re­ferred to Ar­ti­cle 224-A of the Con­sti­tu­tion which pro­vides for ap­point­ment of re­tired HC judges.

En­clos­ing the let­ter writ­ten by Sharma,Gow­dawrote­toDat­tusay­ing “the is­sue of the large num­ber of va­cant po­si­tion of judges in the high courts re­sult­ing in in­crease in the pen­dency of cases, could be ad­dressed by ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of ap­point- ing ad hoc judges in the high courts as sug­gested” by Sharma. Gowda said: “I would be grate­ful if you (Dattu) could ap­prise me with your views.”

As per avail­able in­for­ma­tion, the govern­ment never re­ceived a re- sponse from the CJI of­fice. Heck­led by the im­pas­sioned speech by CJI Tirath Singh Thakur on non-fill­ing of va­can­cies, the govern­ment has de­cided to take up the is­sue at the high­est level.

Highly placed govern­ment sources told ET that the mat­ter is likely to be brought to the no­tice of the PMO.

ET has ex­clu­sively ac­cessed Gowda’s let­ter. Un­der­lin­ing in­creas­ing ju­di­cial va­can­cies and pen­dency of cases, Gowda had fur­ther writ­ten “as you are aware that on Septem­ber 1, 2015, 625 judges were in po­si­tion in the high courts against the ap­proved strength of 1,017 judges, leav­ing 392 va­can­cies to be filled up. As on De­cem­ber 31, 2014, there were 41,53,957 cases pend­ing in the high courts. The large num­ber of va­can­cies...is one of main rea­sons for the huge pen­dency of cases in the high courts”.

Gowda had said “Ar­ti­cle 224-A has beena­mend­ed­with­the­coming­into force of the Con­sti­tu­tion (ninety fourth amend­ment) Act, 2014”. A se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cial told ET: “The govern­ment never re­ceived any re­sponse, till date (from the CJI of­fice). It will be un­fair to blame the govern­ment for mak­ing an ini­tia­tive which it seems was not taken into ac­count.”

A de­tailed ques­tion­naire, to find out if the CJI of­fice had re­sponded to the let­ter, sent to the Supreme Court went unan­swered.

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