More judges: let’s hope CJI succeeds

More judges: let’s hope CJI succeeds

New Delhi: An outside view of Supreme Court, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Sept 26, 2018. The Supreme Court today declared the Centre's flagship Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid but struck down some of its provisions including its linking with bank acc

It is not the first time that the Supreme Court has expressed concern over the crippling shortage of judicial officers in the lower judiciary and taken steps to address the problem. But it is not certain whether the latest initiative taken by the court to fill the vacancies in the higher judicial service and the lower judicial service will lead to satisfactory results. It has admonished the state governments and high courts for their slackness and inaction in the matter and asked them if the ongoing process of recruitment of 4,180 judicial officers could be fast-tracked. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had said, immediately after his elevation to the position, that he would focus on filling up the 5,000 vacancies in the lower judiciary. The present initiative is in accordance with that promise. 

The court had taken up the issue of these vacancies suo moto and passed an order to push the state governments and the high courts to act fast in filling them up. It has reminded them that the time schedule of seven months for recruitment, which it had once laid down, was the outer limit and not the minimum period. If all the vacancies, or even most of them, are filled up, that would be the greatest service to the cause of delivery of justice in the country in recent times. There is a backlog of a humongous 2.6 crore cases in the lower judiciary. These are the courts which are most important for the common man as they deal with the disputes and issues that most affect his life. Delays in the settlement of these cases often mean denial of justice. There are cases which go on for decades, and some of them even span generations. The first measure of efficiency of the system of justice is the ability of the first rung of the judiciary to deliver prompt and fair justice. So, the focus on filling up these 5,000 vacancies is right.

The recruitment of thousands of persons with the qualifications and qualities of mind necessary for a judge in a short span of time is not easy. But it is not an impossible task if sincere efforts are made. The governors of states, governments, high courts and state public service commissions have their own roles in the appointment of judges, and there should be co-ordination between them. Supporting staff will also have to be appointed and the necessary infrastructure created for the courts and judges to function. The Supreme Court has appointed four amicus curiae to assist it in the matter. The court should not accept any excuses for delay from any side, and should ensure that its efforts succeed this time. 

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