Monday: An urgent hearing in a PIL to fill up the high vacancy of judges at Bombay High Court was refused by the Chief Justice’s bench. The petitioner was asked to approach the Supreme Court and not embarrass the HC.
The Division Bench included Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik. The maintainability of the PIL was questioned and the matter was directed to be listed after eight weeks.
“How can a PIL be maintainable? Go to Delhi and file, not here.” Chief Justice Dipankar Datta remarked.
Dhokale said that he sought the circulation for the satisfaction of the court on the maintainability of PIL and would approach the SC if leave was granted.
Last week, the Bombay Lawyers’ Association approached the High Court with a permanent procedure for quickly filling such vacancies. In the meanwhile, the Association attempted to fill the vacancies as quickly as possible.
Despite having a sanctioned strength of 94 judges, the Bombay High Court now has only 57 judges on its bench. This year, eleven judges from the Bombay High Court are retiring. If the vacancies are not filled by the end of 2022, the High Court will have only 48 judges.
The petitioner association claims that the Court’s sanctioned strength of judges has not been filled in a long time.
“Due to the shortage of Judges, it is experienced that there is a huge pendency of matters for years together. There are so many matters not even listed for hearing. Due to a shortage of Judges, no urgent listing is granted. The official data from the website of Hon’ble this Court shows the case clearance rate in the year 2021 is 67.52%, which means there is a pendency of 32.48 percent cases in the year 2021,” the petition states.
Under Article 217 of the Constitution, the President of India appoints judges on the advice and recommendation of the collegium of the High Court and Supreme Court of India. The number of judges in a court is determined by dividing the average number of cases filed in the previous five years by the national average, or by dividing the average rate of main case disposition per judge each year in that High Court, whichever is greater.
The Registrar Generals of the Supreme Court of India and the Bombay High Court, the Ministry of Law and Justice, and the Department of Law and Judiciary are among the petition’s respondents (Maharashtra).
According to the petitioner, it is a group of advocates who practice in the Bombay High Court with the primary goal of facilitating the enhancement of legal services quality.
The Bombay High Court is one of three High Courts in India created by Queen Victoria’s Letters Patent on June 26, 1862, in the Presidency Towns. The Indian High Courts Act, 1861, established it on August 14, 1862.
Nagpur, Aurangabad, and Goa, as well as the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, have benches in the High Court, which has its main seat in Mumbai.
The petitioners claimed that “Not filling all the vacant posts of Judges is a straightaway denial of access of justice to the citizens. It is pertinent to note that not filling up the vacancies of Judges in time causes a delay in the delivery of justice. The Petitioner further submits that shortage of judges in the judiciary is a violation of fundamental rights to citizens.”
The plea also added that people languished in prison and their bail applications were pending due to the non-availability of Judges.