Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘Need good judges’, SC declines to entertain plea for doubling the judges


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New Delhi, Nov 29:  The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea seeking to double the number of judges in the high courts and trial courts, saying more judges does not mean more disposal, instead good judges are required.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justice P.S. Narasimha told the petitioner, advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, that doubling the number of judges is not the solution to address pendency of cases.

“More judges do not mean more disposal, you need good judgesa,” the Chief Justice told Upadhyay.

The bench noted that the petitioner has adopted a very simplistic approach to address the pendency of cases, as it emphasized that simply doubling the judges would not address the issue.

Upadhyay submitted that nearly 5 crore cases are pending in courts, which means nearly 20 crore people are affected, and this is close to the population of the US.

However, the bench was not convinced with his arguments.

“But, doubling the number of judges is not the solution. Every evil you see does not mean that PIL should be filed,” said the bench.

The Chief Justice told Upadhyay “try getting judges to fill up the existing, you will see how difficult it is”, and added that it is difficult to fill 160 seats in Allahabad High Court and the petitioner is asking for 320.

Justice Chandrachud said: “Have you been to Bombay High Court? Not even a single judge can be added there because there is no infrastructure. Adding more judges is not the answer.”

The bench remarked that it may impose costs on such PILs for taking up the judicial time which was meant to hear genuine matters.

Upadhyay submitted that it is a PIL, which is not adversarial and emphasized that courts are overburdened. The bench told the petitioner that the petition was just like the Parliament saying that an Act could be passed to ensure that all matters will be disposed of within six months.

The advocate further argued that the situation was much better in developed countries, where the number of judges were more when compared with population.

The bench told him that the Supreme Court in the US or UK will not entertain such a petition, and added “we are overburdened because of the system, not becausea”

Chief Justice Chandrachud said there are problems, but these simplistic things would not offer a solution, and pointed out that when he was in Allahabad High Court the then law minister had asked him to increase the judges to 25 per cent.

“I was like good lord; I cannot even fill the 160. Ask the Bombay High Court how many good lawyers are willing to accept judgeship. Merely adding more judges is not the answer, you need good judges,” he said, adding that the petitioner should examine statistics and do some more research on vacancies in courts.

Upadhyay then agreed to withdraw his plea.

The bench said the petition was dismissed as withdrawn and gave the liberty to the petitioner to file a fresh plea after doing some research.


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