Sanjay Kishan Kaul, 54, who on Saturday took oath as 32nd chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court, is an advocate of strong citizen redress by the government so that fewer litigants had to approach courts.
Questioned about the steps needed to bring down the pendency of cases, chief justice Kaul said nearly 11.51-lakh cases were pending in all the district courts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, and his endeavour would be to bring the figure below 10 lakh by year-end.
The Haryana governor, Jagannath Pahadia, administered the oath of office and secrecy to chief justice Kaul at Haryana Raj Bhawan in a ceremony also attended by the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana, Parkash Singh Badal and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, respectively.
Addressing the media, chief justice Kaul said alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and mediation needed to be strengthened and the concept of gram nyayalaya (village courts) tried with success in Delhi should be implemented in the region. He has found in Punjab and Haryana a "declining trend" in the piling up of cases, as "the disposal rate is very high".
The new CJ said he would try his best to fill maximum vacancies of judge. Asked specifically about the 27 vacant posts of judge in the high court of the total sanctioned 68, chief justice Kaul said: "In the last some years, the judges' strength here had been in 40s. There is bound to be pressure on judges. The ideal strength of judges in the high court should be between 50 and 55."
Almost 1-lakh new cases were instituted in the high court in a year but the disposal rate was almost static, he said.
Controversy over advocates recommended for judges
Asked about various questions being raised over the high court advocates whom former chief justice and now Supreme Court judge Arjan Kumar Sikri had recommended for elevation as high court judges, the new CJ said: "I would not like to comment." He, however, said: "We should have faith in judges… we are receptible to the bar (association) and judges…we take inputs from everyone."
Judges of the Delhi and Punjab and Haryana high courts attended the ceremony along with their families, senior government officers and advocates.
Judging by record
Born December 26, 1958
Law degree from Delhi University, 1982
Practiced in Delhi high court, mainly in commercial, civil, writ and company matters
Was designated as senior advocate in December 1999
Elevated as additional judge of the Delhi high court on May 3, 2001
Became permanent judge on May 2, 2003.