NEW DELHI: Days after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wrote to the central government urging to increase the number of judges in the Supreme Court, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the strength from the present 31 to 34.
At present, the sanctioned strength of the apex court is 31. Announcing the decision, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Once the Bill to increase the number of judges gets parliamentary nod, the number of judges would go up to 34, including the CJI.”
The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 was last amended in 2009 to increase the judges’ strength from 25 to 30 (excluding the CJI). As on date, the Supreme Court has a pendency of 59,695 cases.
In his letter, CJI cited paucity of judges and stated that the required number of Constitution Benches to decide important cases involving questions of law were not being formed and said, “You would recall that way back in 1988, about three decades ago, the judge strength of the SC was increased from 18 to 26, and then again after two decades in 2009, it was increased to 31, including the CJI, to expedite disposal of cases to keep pace with the rate of institution.”
“I request you to kindly consider, on top priority, to augment the judge-strength in the SC appropriately so that it can function more efficiently and effectively as it will go a long way to attain the ultimate goal of rendering timely justice to the litigant public,” Justice Gogoi wrote.
The SC (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 originally provided for a maximum of 10 judges (excluding CJI). This number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1960, and to 17 in 1977. The working strength of the SC was, however, restricted to 15 judges by the cabinet (excluding the chief Justice of India) till the end of 1979. But the restriction was withdrawn at the request of the CJI.
The decision comes days after CJI Ranjan Gogoi wrote to the PM to increase the number of judges in the SC. “I request you to kindly consider, on top priority, to augment the judge strength in the SC appropriately so that it can function more efficiently and effectively as it will go a long way to attain the ultimate goal of rendering timely justice to the litigant public,” he wrote.