Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said on Sunday that access to justice was a fundamental right and governments cannot afford to deny it to the people.
The CJI again raised the issue of shortage of judges in Indian courts while addressing a gathering of legal luminaries here on the occasion of centennial celebrations of the circuit bench of the high court. Thakur had brought up the issue in an emotional outburst in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a conference in New Delhi recently.
“While we (judiciary) remain keen to ensure that judges’ appointments are made quickly, the machinery involved with the appointment of judges continue to grind very slowly,” Justice Thakur said, adding around 170 proposals for appointment of HC judges were now pending with the government.
Noting that the matter was brought to the notice of the Prime Minister with a plea to make the appointments quickly, he said that people cannot be denied justice.
“Access to justice is a fundamental right and the government cannot afford to deny the people their fundamental right,” he said.
Shortage of judges is one of the formidable challenges the judiciary is facing in the country now, the CJI said adding, out of some 900 sanctioned posts of judges in different high courts of the country, there are over 450 vacancies which need to be filled up immediately.
Dwelling on the poor judge-population ratio, Justice Thakur said while the Law Commission of India in 1987 had suggested having 44,000 judges to effectively tackle the then number of pending cases, the country today has only 18,000 judges.
“Thirty years down the line, we continue to work with depleted strength. If you go by the number of people that have been added to the population, we may now require more than 70,000 judges to clear the pending cases,” he said.