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Chief Justices of all high courts must speed up process of hiring district judges: Justice Gogoi

Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there needed to be a consistent judicial policy and that the tenure of a chief justice did not matter.

india Updated: Jul 28, 2018 22:47 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Justice Gogoi,Ranjan Gogoi,Supreme Court
Supreme Court Justice Gogoi also mooted the concept of re-employing retired judges as ad hoc judges to counter the problem of vacancies. (PTI File Photo)

Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Saturday called upon Chief Justices of all the high courts to speed up the process of filling up over 5,000 vacancies in district courts that are reeling under the burden of 2.6 crore cases.

The Supreme Court judge cautioned that if posts are not filled up, then the Centre would take it as an opportunity to step in and push its agenda to have a centralised system to recruit judges at the trial court level. At present judges in subordinate judiciary are selected through an exam conducted by the respective HC and the state government.

“There are 5094 vacancies in trial courts today. Allahabad tops the list with 1343. Bihar has 825 vacancies and Madhya Pradesh has 748. If we are unable to fill up then I do not blame the government for embarking upon the idea to centralise the recruitment system,” Justice Gogoi said, addressing a gathering of judges at the valedictory session of a two-day conference on “National Initiative to Reduce Pendency and Delay in Judicial System.” Justice Gogoi will take over as the Chief Justice of India in October after the retirement of Justice Dipak Misra.

The three-tier process followed to hire district court judges should ideally take 320 days but it’s not happening, he said. He pointed out how Delhi took 762 days to appoint judges for trial court, while Jammu and Kashmir took 900 days.

“Pondicherry did it in 99 days... Let us get on with looking for the right person. If you have the right person at the right place then right things will follow.”

Justice Gogoi also mooted the concept of re-employing retired judges as ad hoc judges to counter the problem of vacancies.

“I call upon my lords to please do this. Take this opportunity and do it (hiring of ad-hoc judges),” he said. But the judge disagreed with legal educator NR MAdhava Menon that judges with less than one year of tenure should not be promoted as chief justices. He said the problem was not with tenure but lack of consistent policy in managing judiciary. “The problem is that priorities change with the change of chief justices. There must be a consistent policy. Tenures do not matter,” Justice Gogoi said.

He advocated use of technology to monitor progress of disposal of cases in district courts, and asked the chief justices to seek data on a daily basis on how many cases are decided in a day. “This is what I’d expect. With this monitoring vision and awareness, we will learn the way business has to be done and the way it should be done,” he said.

First Published: Jul 28, 2018 21:56 IST