THE LAWFILE

Posts Tagged ‘Chief Justice

Justices delayed: SC down, Judge vacancies pile up

leave a comment »

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

MANEESH CHIBBER in INDIAN EXPRESS

At a time when the collegium system of appointment of Judges is under attack, the Supreme Court — with over 50,000 cases pending before it — will soon be working at less than 75 per cent of its total sanctioned strength of Judges. By October 15, seven Judges of the apex court will retire, the largest number of retirements in a single year since Independence.

And that’s just the position in the country’s highest court. The biggest court in India, Allahabad High Court, has been functioning with just 62 of its total 160 approved strength of Judges, as reported by The Indian Express (nine more will join tomorrow). The Gujarat HC, with a sanctioned strength of 42, has 18 vacancies; while Punjab and Haryana HC has just 43 Judges, against a sanctioned strength of 68.

In all, data compiled by the government shows, of the total 895 posts of Judges sanctioned in the 21 HCs in the country, only 610 are currently filled — a gap of 285. This year, in fact, saw the highest number of posts falling vacant in HCs in a calendar year since 1990. However, only 41 new appointments have been made so far in 2011.

The subordinate judiciary is not much better placed. Data collected by the Supreme Court says that as of December 31, 2010, out of the sanctioned strength of 17,151 posts in states and Union Territories, 3,170 were vacant, with Bihar (389 vacancies), Gujarat (361), Uttar Pradesh (294) and Maharashtra (234) leading the list.

Even though the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia has recommended three names — two HC Chief Justices and one Judge of Bombay HC — even if they are able to take oath by October 15, the number of vacancies in the apex court will still be six out of 31.

“Even though at every meeting of chief ministers and Chief Justices, the judiciary is requested to recommended names for elevation to the Bench at least three months before an anticipated vacancy, it is never done. Today, except for the Himachal Pradesh High Court, there is no court that is working at full strength. Though the sanctioned strength of the Jammu and Kashmir HC is 14, the court is functioning with just seven judges. In most cases, the HC collegium has not met even once in the last one year to recommend names,” said a senior government functionary.

Sikkim, the country’s smallest court with a sanctioned strength of three judges, has just one judge, who was designated Acting Chief Justice after the resignation of Justice P D Dinakaran last month.

The other HCs with a significant number of vacancies are Andhra Pradesh (16), Bombay (14), Calcutta (14), Rajasthan (13) and Chhattisgarh (12).

The highest number of appointments made in a single year was 110 in 2006 when Justice Y K Sabharwal was the CJI and H R Bhardwaj the Union law minister.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/justices-delayed-sc-down-judge-vacancies-pile-up/841693/2

Justice Bedi voices concern for subordinate judiciary

with one comment

SC RETIRED, JUSTICE HARJIT SINGH BEDI

The Supreme Court Bar Association on Friday organised a farewell function for Justice Harjit Singh Bedi whose official term in office ends on September 5.
Speaking on the occasion, Justice HS Bedi said that the last two decades of his judicial career have been very satisfying. He said that his association with the Bar, such as Chandigarh, Bombay, and the Supreme Court would be a memory that he will cherish forever.

During the speech, Justice HS Bedi commented on the persistent sniping that goes on at the judicial system. Justice Bedi stated, “the criticism is sometimes justified and it has to be accepted in that spirit but I find that some of the remarks are unnecessarily sweeping and uncharitable as my experience shows that for every bad Judge there are many good ones whose contributions are completely ignored.”

Blaming the pressures, under which the Judges of the lower judiciary have to function, Justice HS Bedi said that it was responsible for the Judges to avoid taking decisions in controversial matters.

“The subordinate judiciary is at the receiving end not only from the litigant, as one side has to lose, but also from the public, the politician, the media, from unscrupulous lawyers, and, more importantly, from its superiors in the judicial hierarchy. It is this fear in the lower judiciary that is, in many ways, responsible for the creation of excessive and avoidable litigation in the higher courts as subordinate Judges play safe and let Judges higher in the hierarchy take decisions in controversial matters,” Justice HS Bedi said.

Justice Bedi during his speech also commented on the assessment made on the level of corruption in the judiciary. “We have High Court and Supreme Court Judges making assessments about the extent of corruption in the judiciary and offering widely differing figures from 20% to 80%.  How they come about these figures is a mystery to me. Undoubtedly allegations of corruption leveled against a Judge must be strictly dealt with, and that is invariably the case,” Justice Bedi said.

Chief Justice SH Kapadia, speaking on the occasion said that Justice Bedi has been a distinguished colleague who by joining the higher judicial office had continued the family tradition as his father Justice Jagjit Singh Bedi was a distinguished Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Chief Justice said that the judgments pronounced by Justice Bedi were always well structured and there was no element of judicial overreach. He said that his judgments and speeches were always appropriate and well balanced.

“He never crossed the lakshman rekha. His judgments indicate a very fine balance also between judicial activism and judicial restraint,” Chief Justice SH Kapadia said.

Panel probing judges can probe more charges: Supreme court

with one comment

The Supreme Court Friday held that a committee set up under the Judges Inquiry Act can go beyond the charges contained in the notice of motion admitted in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha and forwarded to the committee in pursuance of an impeachment motion against a judge.

’It will be naive to contend that the committee has no discretion in the matter of framing charges. Rather, the committee is duty bound to carefully scrutinise the material forming part of the notice of motion and then frame definite charges,’ said the bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad in their judgment.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Singhvi said: ‘We hold that the procedure adopted by the committee cannot be faulted on the ground that it made a preliminary inquiry before framing charges against the petitioner and relied upon the material received from various sources and recorded statement of some persons.’

The court said this while dismissing the petition by former chief justice of Sikkim High Court, P.D. Dinakaran (since resigned), challenging the judges inquiry committee headed by apex court judge Justice Aftab Alam holding preliminary inquiry and framing charges that were beyond those contained in the notice of motion.

Justice Dinakaran had also contested the committee’s action in seeking more information from the those who briefed the Rajya Sabha members before the motion of impeachment was initiated.

In the notice of motion sent to the Judgers Inquiry Committee, there were 12 charges which were increased to 14 by the probe committee headed by Justice Alam.

The committee, the judgment said, can also receive other material which may support or contradict the allegations enumerated in the notice of motion.

In an appropriate case, the committee can require any person including the one who may have supplied material to the members of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, as the case may be, to give clarification on any particular point or make available authentic copies of the documents, the judgment read.

The committee can also call upon such person to file affidavit or make a statement and summon him at the stage of investigation so that the judge may get an opportunity to cross-examine him, the judgment added.

COURTESY : LEGAL INDIA

 

I am a victim of politics and legal system: Justice Dinakaran

leave a comment »

A day after resigning as theSikkim Chief Justice, Justice P. D. Dinakaran on Saturday said that he has been made a victim of a conspiracy hatched by politicians and the legal system.

Stating that the politicians and the legal system have pushed him into this situation, Justice Dinakaran said: “I am the victim of the whole system- political, executive and also partly the legal system. I expected the rule of law would be available to me. Rule of law is not maintained here. Process of natural justice has been thrown into the air.”

Justice Dinakaran, who is facing impeachment allegedly on charges of corruption and judicial misconduct, in his resignation submitted to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil said that he had been denied fair opportunity to defend himself and his reputation by the Judges Inquiry Committee.

He said he had a suspicion that his misfortune was because of the circumstances of his birth in the socially oppressed and underprivileged section of the society.

Justice Dinakaran, born into a Dalit-Christian family of agricultural background, however, clarified that it was a reference to his rural background and not the caste.

“These people (vested interests) will not tolerate that a man from agriculture community rises into such a high position. This is what I meant when I wrote (in my resignation letter) that I am from underprivileged section. Some people have accused me of using communal language but I am not playing the Dalit card. I want to make it sure. Rural people are still underprivileged in this country,” he said.

The charges against Justice Dinakaran include land grabbing, accumulation of unaccounted assets, passing judicial order for extraneous considerations, following which his elevation to the Supreme Court was also stalled.

He noted the land in contention is his ancestral property.

“The properties were purchased prior to my elevation, yet charges were framed against me. The properties were owned by relatives from 1993, 1994 onwards. There was a repeated exchange of gifts and advances within the families. How does this become illegal? I don’t know how this is illegal,” said Justice Dinakaran.

61 year-old Justice Dinakaran, who was due to retire on May 5, 2012, said that he resigned to show his moral integrity.

“I do not have any lust for position or power. Nor do I intend to adopt tactics or protract the proceedings. If you think by doing all these things I want to continue for another eight months, I am prepared to quit and show my bonafide that I am not such a person,” said Dinakaran.

He said he had lost faith in the fairness of the procedure adopted by the inquiry committee, headed by Supreme Court judge Justice Aftab Alam, as it had decided to go ahead with the proceedings without awaiting the result of his petition challenging the entire process of inquiry.