NEW DELHI: At a time when there is no mechanism in place to appoint or elevate judges to the higher judiciary, 8 High Court judges have retired in a month, raising the vacancies from 384 in August to 392 this month.
According to the latest data compiled by the Law Ministry, as on September one, the high courts are facing a shortage of 392 judges as against the approved strength of 1,017. As on August one, there were 384 vacancies, while on May one, there was a shortage of 366 judges in the high courts.
The high courts were then functioning with a working strength of 651. Thus, the 24 high courts now are functioning with a working strength of 625 judges. According to the data prepared by the Department of Justice, while two judges retired from the Rajasthan High Court, one judge each retired from the Allahabad, Calcutta, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala and Patna high courts. The data does not include the retirement of Bombay High Court Chief Justice Mohit Shah on September 7.
While the collegium system -- where judges recommended names of judges for appointment and elevation to the superior judiciary -- has been done away with by the National Judicial
Appointments Commission Act, the new body is yet to take shape. The new law which scrapped the collegium system came into force on April 13 this year. The Supreme Court has reserved its judgement on a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of NJAC.
Chief Justice of India H L Dattu's refusal to participate in the National Judicial Appointments Commission has stalled any immediate chances of constituting the new judicial appointments body.
"In response to the call from your office to attend the meeting to select two eminent persons, I have to say that it is neither appropriate nor desirable to attend the meeting or be part of the NJAC till the Supreme Court decides its validity," CJI Dattu wrote in his letter to the PM on April 25, thus leaving the new system in limbo.