NEW DELHI: Dismissing claims that it was the government that was delaying appointments of judges, Law Minister Sadananda Gowda said appointments were being made as per the existing memorandum of procedure until a new one is finalised.
Gowda was addressing the media on the achievements of the Ministry of Law and Justice in the past two years since Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister. “I myself had written to the Chief Justice of India in January that the fresh appointment of judges could proceed on the basis of the old memorandum of procedure,” Gowda said.
Responding to a query over the Supreme Court collegium’s objection to a clause in the MoP in which the government has sought to reserve the right to reject a recommendation over concerns of national interest, Gowda said he has, so far, not received any feedback from the CJI on the issue.
Gowda said 170 recommendations for the appointment of judges to the high courts were with various constitutional authorities including chief ministers. “Appointment of judges to the higher judiciary has been undertaken; 86 additional judges were made permanent, 51 new judges were appointed and appointment of another 170 is being processed. We cleared the name of four SC judges in a record six working days,” Gowda said, adding, “In High Courts, earlier sanctioned strength was 906, we increased it by 25 per cent and at present, sanctioned strength is 1,065.”“No delay is caused by the government side. Central Government cannot be pin-pointed for vacancies in subordinate courts. The High Court and State Governments should fill up that,” Gowda clarified.
Putting the ball back in the court of judiciary, the minister said there were too many adjournments that contributed to delays and backlog of cases. He said that in Rajasthan there were 12 to 42 adjournments in civil cases and in Odisha it was as high as 50.
Gowda said that out of 1,870 archaic laws, 1,175 have been scrapped in the past two years. “We are also preparing the draft of a national litigation policy”, the minister said adding that a major exercise for convergence of tribunals would witness the number of tribunals coming down from 36 to just 17.
‘Can’t gauge strength’
On increasing the number of judges in the country, Law Minister Gowda said, “There is no scientific data available to calculate the strength of judges in proportion to the population, indicating that it could be based on workload.”