Appointing Retd Judges as Ad hoc Hailed ‘Revolutionary’
Decision taken after chief ministers of various states accept proposal
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.