An emotional CJI TS Thakur lamented on Sunday “inaction” by the executive to increase the number of judges from the present 21,000 to 40,000 to handle the “avalanche” of litigation even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured him of his government’s resolve in finding a solution jointly with the judiciary.
“…And therefore, it is not only in the name of a litigant or people languishing in jails but also in the name of development of the country, its progress that I beseech you to rise to the occasion and realise that it is not enough to criticise. You cannot shift the entire burden on the judiciary,” the Chief Justice of India said in a choking voice.
Addressing the inaugural session of Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts, Justice Thakur said that since 1987, when the Law Commission had recommended increase in the number of judges from then 10 judges per 10 lakh people to 50, “nothing has moved”. “Then comes inaction by the government as the increase (in the strength of judges) does not take place,” he said.
Justice Thakur said following the Law Commission’s recommendation, the Supreme Court in 2002 had also supported increasing the strength of the judiciary. A Parliamentary Department Related Standing Committee on Law then headed by Pranab Mukherjee had also recommended taking the judge to people ratio to 50 from 10. As of today, the judge to people ratio stands at 15 judges to 10 lakh people which is way less than as compared to the US, Australia, the UK and Canada.
“In 1987, the requirement was 40,000 judges. From 1987 till now, we have added 25 crore in terms of population. We have grown into one of the fastest growing economies of the world, we are inviting foreign direct investment into the country, we want people to come and make in India, we want people to come and invest in India. “Those whom we are inviting are also concerned about the ability of the judicial system in the country to deal with cases and disputes that arise out of such investments. Efficacy of the judicial system is so vitally connected with the development,” Thakur said, referring to Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Ease of doing business’ campaigns.