Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi shows high courts the way on pendency, corruption
On October 5, two days after taking over as the chief justice of India (CJI), justice Ranjan Gogoi spoke with chief justices and senior judges of the high courts over video conference, asking them to focus on getting work done, and on the need to combat corruption in the judiciary, according to two people familiar with the conversation who asked not to be identified.
That the backlog of cases was something that bothered him was clear from the importance he assigned to it in a speech on September 29 to young lawyers. Speaking days before taking over as the chief justice, he said pendency brings “disrepute to the system”.
There are 4.3 million cases pending in 42 high courts, according to the National Judicial Data Grid. As many as 55,946 cases are pending in the Supreme Court, according to its official website.
One of the two persons cited above, a sitting chief justice of a high court, spoke of a 10-point plan that was discussed in the video conference. “Justice Gogoi impressed on all the chief justices that judges in the high courts should not take leave during working days and also must be present in courtrooms all through the working hours.”
Hindustan Times learns that the chief justice also attacked the issue of corruption in the higher judiciary. He reportedly told the high court chief justices not to “hesitate in withdrawing judicial work from judges who are under a cloud.”
Chief Justice Gogoi also stressed the need to appoint advocates with good incomes as judges, the two people said. That prevents them from being tempted by money.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court collegium headed by justice Gogoi rejected the elevation of an advocate as judge of the Kerala high court.
The grounds for rejection was that “his average net professional annual income for the preceding five years is less than the prescribed income limit applicable in case of bar members.”
During the conversation, Justice Gogoi also stressed the importance of filling vacancies in the lower judiciary so that cases do not clog the system.
The CJI has already ushered in administrative changes in the SC for quick disposal of criminal appeals that are awaiting final disposal in the court for more than a decade.
On two days of the week, Wednesday and Thursday, criminal appeals will be heard by at least five benches. The first 10 matters in these courts will be criminal appeals where the petitioners are languishing in jail.
In the past, only those benches having the criminal appeal roster could hear such cases.
Once the court reopens after the Dussehra break, CJI Gogoi intends to extend the practice to even civil appeals.