SC can have three more judges now, Parl passes law

File photo for representation

The number of Supreme Court judges can now be increased to 33 from existing 30, excluding the Chief Justice of India, with Parliament on Wednesday giving a nod to legislation for the purpose.

While Lok Sabha passed the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill on Monday, the Rajya Sabha too cleared it without a discussion after Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad moved it.

As Prasad urged the Rajya Sabha to clear it without discussion, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said Congress has no objection to the bill but would like to have a discussion on it as they could raise issues related to the judiciary. "We normally do not discuss judiciary...We get chance once in a decade," he said.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said it is a Money Bill, to which the Law Minister said that he was willing to have a discussion on the judiciary in November during Winter Session.

BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra said government to ensure representation of Scheduled Castes in the Supreme Court. Though there was an appeal from the government to pass the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, which removes Congress president as a member of the Trust, there was opposition to passing it without a discussion.

According to the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, the pendency of cases in the Supreme Court has constantly been on the rise due to a comparatively higher rate of an institution of cases.

As of June 1, there were 58,669 cases pending in the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India has intimated that inadequate strength of judges is one of the prime reasons for a backlog of cases in the Supreme Court.

"It is not possible for the Chief Justice of India to constitute five Judges Bench on a regular basis to hear cases involving substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution as it would result in constitution of less number of Division Benches which would lead to delay in hearing of other civil and criminal matters," it said.

According to the Financial Memorandum of the Bill, the increase the present strength of the Judges of the Supreme Court from 30 to 33, excluding the Chief Justice of India, and consequent increase in expenditure. The total expenditure on creation of additional three posts of Judges in the Supreme Court will be of Rs 6.81 crore per annum.

Of this, the government has pegged an expenditure of Rs 5.37 crore per annum for a salary of three Judges and their staff, housing, water, electricity, medical and conveyance among others. An expenditure of Rs 60 lakh is expected for the deployment of security and non-recurring expenditure of Rs 84 lakh towards car and furnishing of the official residence. (ENDS)

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