Supreme Court brings Art 224A to life to bring retired judges back | India News
Clarifying that the appointment of ad hoc judges would not be against vacancies in the sanctioned force of judges in a HC, a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and justices SK Kaul and Surya Kant took the historic step to chart the structured implementation of the Article 224A, which was there in the original Constitution adopted in 1949 but was removed in 1956 only to be reintroduced in 1963.
In the last 58 years, only three retired judges have been appointed as ad hoc judges for the HCs for a period of one year each: Magistrate Suraj Bhan for the Madhya Pradesh HC in 1972, Judge P Venugopal for the HC of Madras in 1982 and Magistrate OP Srivastava to Allahabad HC in 2007 for the Ayodhya case.
The court led by the CJI said that the trigger point for the activation of Article 224A by a president of the Supreme Court of the HC could be many: (a) if the vacancies are more than 20% of the sanctioned force, ( b) cases in a particular category are pending for more than five years, (c) more than 10% of the backlog of pending cases are more than five years old, (d) the percentage of the disposition fee is lower than the institution of cases, either on a particular issue or generally in court, and, (e) even if there are not many old cases pending, but depending on the jurisdiction, a situation of increasing arrears is likely to arise if the rate Disposition rate is consistently lower than the filing fee over a period of one year or more
Extreme situations require unprecedented measures. Given the mountain of cases pending before the courts and the shortage of judges, this is a welcome step.
The court, however, said: “Recourse to Article 224A is not an alternative to regular appointments. To emphasize this aspect, we clarify that if no recommendations have been made for more than 20% of the regular vacancies, then the trigger for recourse to article 224A would not arise.
“We have little doubt that the challenge of increasing backlogs and existing vacancies requires recourse to Article 224A of the Constitution to appoint ad hoc judges, which constitutes a ready talent pool (of course, subject to their attendance) as a methodology especially to resolve cases. The existing staff of permanent and additional judges can be used for current and not so old cases. Ad hoc judges are exempt even from administrative responsibilities. They can focus on old cases that are stuck in the system and may require more experience. ”
The government, through the attorney general, had communicated to the CS that it had no objections to the HC CJ resorting to article 224A, but first the HC schools must fill the existing vacancies before relying on the latent disposition to appoint ad hoc judges .
The court rejected the argument, saying: “In our opinion, this would be a counterproductive argument because the very reason that section 224A has been used is that increasing vacancies and arrears are not being filled. However, we can hasten to add that the objective is not to appoint ad hoc judges instead of judges who will be appointed with the regular staff of the CH “.
The SC was clear in its view that the appointment of ad hoc judges through Article 224A was not a panacea for inaction in making recommendations for regular appointments. He said the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) showed that 56.4% of pending cases were filed in the past five years, while 40% of pending cases were filed between five and 20 years ago. The main purpose of appointing judges ad hoc was to deal with the latest batch of cases that have been pending for more than five years, he said.
According to NJDG data, five HCs (Allahabad, Punjab and Haryana, Madras, Bombay and Rajasthan) are responsible for 54% of the processing of more than 57.51,312 cases. Madras HC has one of the highest arrears in the country at 5.8 lakh of cases despite having fewer vacancies than most other HCs (7%). “This does not remove the requirement to appoint ad hoc magistrates, but supports the view that even if existing vacancies are few, a situation may arise that requires the expertise of experienced magistrates to be appointed as ad hoc magistrates. On the other hand, Kolkata HC has one of the highest vacancies for regular appointments (44%) but less than half the arrears compared to Madras (2.7 lakh of cases), “the bank said.
“We have an explosion of files in our country and it is difficult for the adjudication to be carried out in a reasonable period of time. This crisis situation must be addressed. Some innovation is always the rule of the game. In the current context, perhaps a A slightly different view should be taken regarding the stated purpose of Article 224A which provides for ad hoc judges. We say this as we are faced with the basic reality that almost 40% of vacancies remain in regular appointments (both permanent and additional judges) over the past two years, as we have already mentioned. A number of vacancies that arise each year are barely filled with new appointments. Therefore, it remains an unmet challenge to bring the appointments process to a number that allows to fill the existing vacancies and Without pretending to blame anyone, a fundamental reality remains that there are multiple reasons for the same, “added the bench.