Madras High Court: Seven newly appointed judges sworn in

CHENNAI:  Seven newly appointed judges of the Madras High Court were sworn in today.

Chief Justice Indira Banerjee administered the oath of office to them.

With this, the total strength of the Madras High Court has reached 63 out of the sanctioned strength of 75.

All the judges are from the Bar. The Law Ministry had on June 1 appointed 14 judges to the three high courts.

While seven additional judges were appointed to the Madras High Court, two were appointed to the Karnataka High Court and five judges to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Shortage of judges in higher judiciary saddening:  Former Union law minister Salman Khurshid

 Former Union law minister Salman Khurshid has said the shortage of judges in the higher judiciary was “saddening” and called for steps to address the issue at the earliest.

Khurshid, himself a senior advocate, said that right to justice should get the attention similar to that of ‘Swachh Bharat’ programme and there were some “fundamental flaws” in the judicial system.

“We don’t have an appellate judiciary which is stable at the top. Number of Chief Justices serve a very short tenure,” he said at the conclave — ‘The Rule of Law Convention 2018 on Judicial Reforms’ — organised by the Bar Association of India here.

Khurshid also talked about the issue of vacancies in the higher judiciary.

“The vacancies in the higher courts are very saddening.

Young people should come and join the judiciary,” he said.

“We need to take various steps to solve this issue at the earliest,” he said.

At present, the Supreme Court has 25 judges, including the Chief Justice of India, against the sanctioned strength of 31 judges. Several High Courts in the country are also facing a shortage of judges.

Referring to the hearing in the apex court on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, he said there was a need to have better case management.

“The CJI had to sit down and look at the paperwork and figure out what has to be done. All this is done by the solicitors the world over. This wastes time. This is a serious problem,” he said.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who is also the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, also addressed the gathering and expressed his concern over shortage of judges.

“I don’t understand why office of judge can be allowed to remain vacant. Why don’t we have a system where judges are appointed well before the date of retirement of the sitting judge,” he said.

“The entire issue that played out in public was about turf war, about who appoints rather than the quality of the judge,” Singh said.

HC lashes out at Centre on issue of dearth of judges

 In a scathing attack on the Centre for delaying the appointment of judges, the Calcutta High Court has warned of “appropriate action” if urgent steps are not taken on it, while asking whether the nation could think of the Parliament functioning with half its strength.

The “continued silence” of the Centre on appointing judges, despite concerns over the dearth in their numbers, would “certainly be viewed seriously as interference in the course of administration of justice,” it said.

“Immediate action is called for to appoint maximum number of judges to prevent the justice delivery system from collapsing, which seems to be imminent,” a division bench comprising Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice D P Dey said, pointing out that the functional strength of judges in the high court was 34 compared with a sanctioned strength of 72.

“Today, this court has a functional strength of 34 judges only. The present functional strength is, therefore, a little less than 50 per cent of the sanctioned strength,” it said.

“This Bench is of the opinion that the concerns expressed in this order should reach the Hon’ble Law Minister of the Union immediately so that the matter relating to appointment of Judges in this Court is given topmost priority,” the bench said, adding that “the politeness of this Bench may not be understood as weakness on its part to be firm.”

“It is made clear that continued silence of the Central Government in the matter of appointment of Judges in the near future despite the concerns expressed in this order, would certainly be viewed seriously as interference in the course of administration of justice and followed by appropriate action as authorised in law,” the court cautioned.

Expressing serious displeasure at the country’s oldest high court being handicapped by a massive shortage of judges, the Bench said, “The bar and the litigant public have been tolerant so long, but this Bench cannot remain a silent spectator waiting for the inevitable ire to explode.”

The directions and observations came in the light of the Bench’s failure to hear an anticipatory bail prayer more than a month after it was filed on June 5.

The prayer was disposed of by the bench on July 12 as infructuous as the petitioner was arrested on July 6.

The bench noted that by February 2018, ten judges of the court will retire, thus bringing down the strength to 24, if no fresh appointment was made by that time.

“Working at less than 50 per cent strength, disposal of proceedings in this court have been quite high in the sense that it is comparable with disposals of high courts functioning with greater strength of judges.

“Nonetheless, it cannot to be doubted that whatever is being achieved is far below the expectations of the litigants,” the order said.

“Can the nation think of the Lok Sabha in a functional state with half of its elected members? Similarly, can Legislative Assemblies function at half-strength? The answer cannot be in the affirmative,” the bench asked.

“The Lok Sabha and/or the Legislative Assemblies are important constitutional entities and it would be a disgrace for the largest democracy of the world if elections were not conducted on time,” it said.

It also asked whether it could be found that the bureaucracy was functioning “years after years without sufficient personnel? No time is spared in making the necessary appointments at the right time to ensure its smooth functioning.”

“This bench is thus left to wonder as to why only in respect of filling up of vacancies in the high courts, which are also high constitutional authorities, there is such a brazen apathy and indifference of the political executive,” the bench wondered.

Source : PTI

Judge recuses from hearing Delhi’s plea ag’st Centre

Judge recuses from hearing Delhi's plea ag'st Centre
Judge recuses from hearing Delhi’s plea ag’st Centre

Justice L Nageshwar Rao today became the second Supreme Court judge to recuse himself from hearing a plea of Delhi government seeking a declaration of its power and to restrain the High Court from delivering the verdict on host of issues including the scope of its powers.

The plea was listed before a bench of Justices A R Dave and Rao, a day after another apex court judge Justice J S Khehar had recused himself from hearing the matter.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Delhi government, who came to know about the second recusal in as many days, first rushed to mention the matter before the bench headed by Justice Dave.

After getting the confirmation about the Justice Rao’s recusal, Jaising then went to court of Chief Justice T S Thakur and sought urgent hearing of the matter, saying it seemed that she was probably “jinxed” for the case as the hearing is getting deferred time and again.

The CJI then assured Jaising of listing of the matter before a third bench on Friday.

Yesterday, the Arvind Kejriwal government had made unsuccessful efforts to ensure that its lawsuit for declaration of powers of Delhi as a state be heard along with its plea to restrain Delhi High Court from delivering verdict on a host of issues, including the scope of its powers.

Prior to this, the court had agreed to hear the Delhi government’s plea.

In its plea, Delhi government has claimed that only the apex court had jurisdiction under the Constitution to deal with issues relating to the powers of States and Centre.

It has been alleged by the AAP government that it has been unable to function as most of its decisions are either annulled or changed by the Centre at the behest of Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung on the ground that Delhi is not a complete state.

In its appeal, the city government alleged that its power to do public services in the state has been adversely affected. It also raised a question as to whether the Union of India can take over all powers of the state government.

There is an ongoing power tussle between Delhi government and LG on various issues including the control over Anti- Corruption Branch and power to transfer or retain bureaucrats.

The HC had on May 24 reserved its verdict on the plea of AAP government seeking a stay on the proceedings on petitions arising out of its standoff with the LG over powers to appoint bureaucrats in the national capital and other issues.

( Source – PTI )

Delhi HC refuses to stay swearing in of new judges

Delhi HC refuses to stay swearing in of new judges
Delhi HC refuses to stay swearing in of new judges

The Delhi High Court today refused to stay the oath-taking ceremony of four new judges of the Supreme Court on a plea made against their elevation to the apex court.

The four new judges, whose names have been recommended by the Supreme Court collegium and approved by President Pranab Mukherjee, are likely to be sworn in tomorrow.

Justice Manmohan turned down an oral plea made by advocate R P Luthra on his petition challenging the elevation.

“You have not filed any application. How can I hear it? Something must come before me. What should I allow? There must be an early hearing application as the matter is already fixed for tomorrow. There is no such application. Neither is there any application for oath ceremony (likely to be held tomorrow).

“I will allow in air or what? This is not that I’m hearing any matter at my residence. I am hearing in the court of law. There is some procedure, I cannot change that. You will have to file a proper application and get it listed before hearing the matter,” the judge said.

The judge also said, “I cannot allow any of your requests made orally.”

The court however said, “Still there is vacancy in Supreme Court. The lot has not yet been filled up. So you can try next time.”

The court is already hearing pleas filed by Delhi-based lawyer Luthra and Mumbai-based lawyer, Mathews J Nedumpara, who have also sought directions restraining the collegium from recommending appointments to the higher judiciary and the government from acting on the recommendations till the system is “defect-free and fool-proof”.

Meanwhile, another petition by advocate V P Tripathi on same grounds was today mentioned before a bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva who refused to list the matter for today saying there is “no urgency and there are already petitions challenging the recommendations. So your petitions too will come in the due course”.

The high court had yesterday refrained from passing any interim stay order on their pleas challenging the collegium’s recommendation and after a brief hearing of arguments it had adjourned the matter for tomorrow.

The four judges to be sworn in are Justice A M Khanwilkar of Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice D Y Chandrachud of Allahabad High Court, Justice Ashok Bhushanof Kerala High Court and senior lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General L Nageshwar Rao to the Supreme Court. The names were cleared by the President yesterday.

( Source – PTI )

Four judges sworn in as Supreme Court judges

Four judges sworn in as Supreme Court judges
Four judges sworn in as Supreme Court judges

Justices A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and L Nageshwar Rao were today sworn in as Supreme Court judges, taking the apex court’s strength to 29, including Chief Justice T S Thakur.

They were administered the oath of office by CJI Thakur this morning.

Justices Khanwilkar, Chandrachud and Bhushan were the Chief Justices of Madhya Pradesh High Court, Allahabad High Court and Kerala High Court, respectively.

Justice Rao, who was a senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor General, has been elevated as an apex court judge from the bar.

The sanctioned strength of judges in the apex court is 31, including the CJI. There is only one woman judge in the Supreme Court Justice R Banumathi.

The elevation of the four judges were the first set of recommendations made by the Supreme Court Collegium after the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act which sought to scrap the collegium system was struck down by an SC bench in October last year.

The apex court will also see five judges retiring this year, including Justice A R Dave who will retire on November 18, Justice F M I Kalifulla on July 22, Justice V Gopala Gowda on October 5, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh on November 12 and Justice C Nagappan on October 3. The Chief Justice of India will retire on January 3, 2017.

Former ASG L Nageshwar Rao is the fourth member from the Bar recommended for Supreme Court judgeship by the collegium after the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014.

In 2014, U U Lalit and R F Nariman were appointed as SC judges, but the government had returned the file of former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium citing negative Intelligence Bureau report.

Justice Khanwilkar was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on November 24, 2013. Prior to this, he was appointed the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court on April 4, 2013.

He became the Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court on March 29, 2000 and permanent judge on April 8, 2002.

( Source – PTI )

Allahabad HC judges to conduct inspection of land acquired

Allahabad HC judges to conduct inspection of land acquired
Allahabad HC judges to conduct inspection of land acquired

Two judges of the Allahabad High Court today decided to conduct an on-the-spot inspection of a piece of land in Greater Noida, which was acquired by Uttar Pradesh government five years ago for constructing a road connecting the township with a national highway.

The bench, comprising Justice Rakesh Tiwari and Justice Shashi Kant, directed the Chairman and CEO of Greater Noida Authority and revenue department officials to remain present during their visit to the spot, falling close to a school Dadri village, on December 26.      The court took the decision while hearing a petition filed by Virendra Garg and several others who have moved the court with the complaint that the state government had acquired their land in 2010 stating that it was required to construct a road connecting Greater Noida with National Highway no.91.

The petitioners have alleged that while as part of the acquisition process, they were made to enter into a settlement with the Greater Noida Authority which had promised to provide them with land – by way of compensation – elsewhere.       The petitioners have further alleged that after a lapse of more than five years, neither have they been provided with land in an alternative locality, as promised, nor has work started for the proposed road construction project.

The judges were shown images of the acquired piece of land through a projector installed inside the courtroom, after which they observed that the situation required an on-the-spot inspection of the site.

The court, while directing all the petitioners to remain present during the inspection on December 26, also fixed January 4 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

( Source – PTI )

Increase courts, judges, hike retirement age: Law Commission

The Law Commission on Monday recommended setting up of additional courts, increasing retirement age of subordinate court judges and recruitment of new judges as some of the steps needed to deal with the perennial problem of delays and pendency of cases plaguing the judicial system.

The Law Commission outlined these priorities in its report to the government on “Manpower Planning in Judiciary: A Blue Print”, submitted by panel chairman, Justice (retd.) AP Shah that was submitted to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.retirement

Speaking on the occasion, Prasad said that the report would guide the government in overcoming the ortage of judges.

“Efforts made by the government for filling up vacancies of judges and setting up new courts would soon lead to curbing of delays and timely delivery of justice to citizens,” he said.

He said the government has already written to Chief Justice of India RM Lodha for filling up the existing vacancies in high courts and subordinate courts.

Assuring that the government would be giving serious consideration to the recommendations, Prasad said that an “in principle decision has already been taken to increase the number of judges by 20 per cent” and six States – Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Odisha and Punjab – have already consented to the proposal.

Justice Shah said that the commission has “tried to use scientific formula to the extent possible to estimate the number of judges needed in the country”.

Apart from increasing judge strength, “many other measures have to be undertaken for reducing delays, including the application of good judicial management practices such as putting into place timelines and performance benchmarks”.

It also recommended increasing the retirement age of judges of subordinate judiciary to 62 years.

Among other measures it called were special morning and evening courts to deal with traffic/ police cases which constitute 38.7 percent of the institutional and 37.4 percent of all pending cases in the last three years before the subordinate judicial services.

It recommended that the “recent law graduates may be appointed for short durations, eg 3 years, to preside over these special traffic courts”.

(Source:IANS)

17 Chhattisgarh judges forced to retire

In a rare action, as many as 17 judges in Chhattisgarh were forced to accept compulsory retirement after an internal inquiry indicted them on charges of corruption, law department sources said Monday.

The state government issued the order after the law department report said the judges were guilty of graft.

The judges include the district and sessions judge posted at Ambikapur, headquarters of Surguja district, and the additional district and sessions judge at Dantewada

Revisit system of judges appointment, apex court told

The central government Monday asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the system of appointment of judges to higher judiciary as the existing collegium procedure has not delivered on expectations.

The apex court bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan referred the matter to Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia to place the central government’s plea before an appropriate bench for consideration.

Attorney General G. Vahanvati told the court that though the central government was contemplating a comprehensive law to deal with judicial appointments, it may take time as it involved amending the constitution.

He asked the court to revisit its 1993 judgment on the appointment of judges. The Supreme Court had taken away all the powers of the government in judicial appointment and placed these with a collegium system, where five senior-most judges of the apex court (i.e. the chief justice and four others) decide on the judicial appointments in the apex and high courts.