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Even as the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, in an emotionally choked voice, appealed to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on Sunday, in the annual Conference of Chief Justices-Chief Ministers to increase the number of judges, there may not be fresh appointments.

Sources said summer vacations starting mid-May and going on till first week of July, fresh appointments of judges, not only to the Supreme Court but also to many High Courts may be further delayed. About three crore cases are pending in all the High Courts and the Supreme Court and there is no data for the lower courts in the entire country.

“Not only in the name of litigants and people languishing in jails but also in the name of the development of the country and its progress, I beseech you to rise to the occasion and realise that it is not sufficient to criticise,”…

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Even as the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, in an emotionally choked voice, appealed to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on Sunday, in the annual Conference of Chief Justices-Chief Ministers to increase the number of judges, there may not be fresh appointments.

Sources said summer vacations starting mid-May and going on till first week of July, fresh appointments of judges, not only to the Supreme Court but also to many High Courts may be further delayed. About three crore cases are pending in all the High Courts and the Supreme Court and there is no data for the lower courts in the entire country.

“Not only in the name of litigants and people languishing in jails but also in the name of the development of the country and its progress, I beseech you to rise to the occasion and realise that it is not sufficient to criticise,” CJI Thakur stated in the Conference.

“The entire US Supreme Court – nine judges sitting together – decides 81 cases in a year, but an Indian judge – a munsif or a Supreme Court judge – decides 2,600 cases a year,” Justice Thakur had stated.

However, the Supreme Court’s case load is set to increase as it is unlikely to get new judges till some of the over 400 vacancies in the 24 high courts are filled.

India’s Top Court has 25 judges, against a sanctioned strength of 31. And there are about 60,000 pending cases in the Top Court alone. The last judge to be elevated to its ranks was justice AK Roy, way back in February 2015. Four judges are due for retirement by December-end.

The SC collegium — a panel of five senior judges responsible for appointments to the top court and high courts — has put on hold the elevation of at least five high court chief justices.

The SC collegium headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur is, therefore, keen on dealing with the high court vacancies before tacking its own, even though this means an increase in its workload.

The high court chief justices being considered for appointment to the top court are Ashok Bhushan (Kerala), Manjula Chellur (Calcutta), Sanjay Kishan Kaul (Madras), Dhananjaya Chandrachud (Allahabad) and AM Khanwilkar (Madhya Pradesh).

Over 30 judges recommended by the Allahabad High Court too have been put on hold, it is reliably learnt.

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