Cuttack, May 9: The country requires more than 70,000 judges now to clear the mounting backlog of cases, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur said on Sunday, making a fresh push for speedy appointments to the judiciary.
Continuing to express concern over the low judge-population ratio in the country, Justice Thakur said access to justice was a fundamental right and governments cannot afford to deny it to the people.
The pending court cases, which has touched an alarming 3.14 crore, had led to an emotional outburst by the CJI in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a conference in New Delhi recently.
The CJI once again raised the backlog issue while addressing a gathering of legal luminaries here on the occasion of centennial celebrations of the circuit bench of the High Court. "If you go by the number of people that have been added to the population, we may now require more than 70,000 judges to clear the pending cases," he said.
"While we (judiciary) remain keen to ensure that judges' appointments are made quickly, the machinery involved with the appointment of judges continue to grind very slowly," Justice Thakur said, adding around 170 proposals for appointment of HC judges were now pending with the government.
Noting that the matter was brought to the notice of the Prime Minister recently with a plea to make the appointments quickly, he said people cannot be denied justice. "Access to justice is a fundamental right and the government cannot afford to deny the people their fundamental right," he said.
Shortage of judges is one of the formidable challenges the judiciary is facing in the country now, the CJI said adding, out of some 900 sanctioned posts of judges in different High Courts of the country, there are over 450 vacancies which need to be filled up immediately.
Dwelling on the poor judge-population ratio, Justice Thakur said while the Law Commission of India in 1987 had suggested for having 44,000 judges to effectively tackle the then number of pending cases, the country today has only 18,000 judges.
"Thirty years down the line we continue to work with depleted strength," he added.