The Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments on the recommendations for the appointment of Ad-Hoc Judges and will decide while issuing guidelines for the High Court to be followed for the appointment of Ad-Hoc judges amid a large number of pending cases.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Justice Surya Kant heard the PIL filed by NGO Lok Prahari regarding the appointment of retired judges as Ad-Hoc judges in all the Courts in order to avoid pendency of cases.
During the arguments, Justice Kaul said, “today the situation is different, it is not a replacement for recommending judges. The idea behind appointing the Ad-Hoc judges is to be dealt with the pendency of Cases in a particular field. There will be tenure for these Ad-Hoc judges and they will help in the clearing of the older cases. They will not deal with the current backlog. I am thinking from a different perspective.”
Chief Justice Bobde while referring to Article 224A of the Constitution of India said, “the constitution has left it to the Chief Justice of the High Court to Decide. If the Judge is not willing to accept the proposal he can refuse it. This is to serve the country, to serve the Constitution.”
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, appearing as an Amicus Curiae in the matter, submitted that there shall be a notification six months before a vacancy arises.
To which the Chief Justice enquired, six months in advance before which vacancies arise? Datar answered stating that this is regarding the regular Judges. Whereas, Datar further submitted that the suggestion of the Union is that the appointment of retired Judges may be done on a case to case basis.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh contended that if a bench will be allocated to handle matters of three or four boards then none of them will go forward.
In addition to this Datar submitted, “there are about 57 lakh cases pending in High Courts out of which 31 lakh pending only in the majority of five High Courts. Madras has only 7-8 vacancies and there are arrears.”
Whereas, the Chief Justice while giving an instance of his experience during his tenure said, due to the pendency of constitutional matters, we cannot have focused on this because then all other matters would have suffered.
Data further stated that the additional judges shall be appointed for a period of 2 years, on which, the Chief Justice that let the Chief Justice of the High Court decision on this and I don’t think that any Chief Justice would recommend names without consulting with the Judge.
The other issues raised by the Chief Justice included whether the dispersion of the salary to the Ad-Hoc judges will be from the Consolidated Fund of India and the other is security, including that nobody will withhold the payment of salary.
Making submission over the last recommendation of the Central government data raised the point that there shall be a provision for the impeachment of such Judges, however, the Chief Justice contended that this will affect the independence of a Judge, “We are not sure about the independence, who would want to be Judge than. I’m not inclined to make any Judge, insecure. There had been allegations against the Judges and some of them were shockingly false, you cannot give security while saying that you can knock them off any time.”
In addition to this Justice Kaul further added, “let us understand the society we are living in today, one is appointed then there will be 3 others who would say, why not me.”
Datar while concluding his arguments submitted that there may be things that may not apply to these judges like they cannot be transferred.
Senior Advocate Ajit Sinha submitted, “interim Order by this Court will be required to activate Article 224 A and designate the Chief Justice for the appointments.”
The bench had further enquired about the timeline required stating, “the government shall tell us a timeline at each stage, timelines which you’ll adhere to. As an SC we’ll put up for the HC but as a union what timeline will you adhere to?” To this, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal referred to the timeline given in the Memorandum of Procedure.
Thereafter Advocate Shobha Gupta appearing for the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association submitted, “We have filed an intervention for the appointment of women lawyers, kindly issue Notice.”
However, the Chief Justice contended, ”we want women to be Judges, we want women to be CJI. But we are not going to issue notice, please don’t complicate it. We have the interest of women in our minds.
The bench will pronounce its order over the appointment of Ad-Hoc Judges while keeping the matter pending.