The process of selection and appointment of judges should conform to the highest of standards, President Pranab Mukherjee said today, describing an independent judiciary as the “cornerstone” of democracy. “The process of selection and appointment of judges should conform to the highest of standards. We must make haste in this regard but without compromising on quality,” he said addressing a gathering after inaugurating the centenary celebrations of the Patna High Court.
Mukherjee’s remarks came against the backdrop of a controversy over establishment of the National Judicial Appointments Commission, which ended the collegium system where judges appointed judges. The NJAC Act gives a say to the executive in appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts.
“The independence of the judiciary is the cornerstone of our democracy. The judicial system in our country should be not only accessible but also affordable,” he said.
Referring to high pendency of cases, the President stressed on the need to speed up the process of disposal of cases, saying “justice delayed is justice denied”.
Mukherjee emphasised on filling the vacant posts of judges in courts across the country on a priority basis to expedite delivery of justice.
The Patna High Court today has 31 judges against the sanctioned strength of 43 judges, he said, adding 1,33,297 cases were pending there as of March 31, 2015.
The pendency in the subordinate courts under the Patna High Court is an estimated 20 lakh and more than 16.8 lakh of them are criminal cases, he said.