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The friction between the judiciary and the government over the time taken to appoint judges spilled out in the open yesterday. A Supreme Court bench asked the Attorney General to find out when the government plans to act on its recommendations.
This is a grave matter as delays and backlogs affect the state’s capacity for justice delivery.
The process of appointing a judge involves the chief justices of the Supreme Court and High Courts initiating a proposal for appointment. The next leg of the appointment process is dealt with by the executive. According to the government, the appointments process is one that is collaborative and integrated between the executive and judiciary. On the basis of what happened in the Supreme Court, it appears that there is not enough collaboration.
The statistics on judicial gridlock are grave. In the budget session of Parliament, the Centre informed the Lok Sabha that of the sanctioned strength of 1080 judges in the Supreme Court and 25 High Courts put together, the vacancy level is 39%.
As on 1st March, there were 66,727 cases pending with the Supreme Court. In the High Courts, there were 5.6 million pending cases as on 28th January.
This glacial pace of justice delivery will undermine faith in the system. The executive and judiciary need to figure a way to collaborate better in larger national interest.