Government nod to increase SC judges’ strength to 33
The decision of the cabinet comes nearly a month after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an increase in the number of judges in the top court.Updated: Aug 01, 2019, 01:11 IST
Acting on a request by the chief justice of India, the government on Wednesday decided to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from the present 30 to 33, excluding the CJI.
The move comes against the backdrop of an increase in the number of cases being handled by the top court ( nearly 60,000).
The decision of the cabinet comes nearly a month after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an increase in the number of judges in the top court.
Gogoi, it is learnt, informed the government that inadequate judge-strength was a major reason for the backlog of cases. The chief justice communicated that the sanctioned strength of the court had not been increased for several years while the number of judges overall had increased in high courts. This was resulting in a higher number of cases in the apex court, the chief justice is learnt to have told the government.
Due to paucity of judges, the required number of constitution benches to decide important cases involving questions of law were not being formed, the CJI said.
“You would recall that way back in 1988, about three decades ago, the judge strength of the SC was increased from 18 to 26, and then again after two decades in 2009, it was increased to 31, including the CJI, to expedite disposal of cases to keep pace with the rate of institution,” he wrote.
The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 was last amended in 2009 to increase the judges strength from 25 to 30 (excluding the CJI). The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 originally provided for a maximum of 10 judges (excluding the CJI).
This number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1960, and to 17 in 1977. The working strength of the Supreme Court was, however, restricted to 15 judges by the cabinet (excluding the chief Justice of India) till the end of 1979. But the restriction was withdrawn at the request of the chief justice of India. In 1986, the strength of the top court was increased to 25, excluding the CJI. Subsequently, the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2009 further augmented the strength of the court from 25 to 30.