PIL in Supreme Court for Appointing more Judges in Lower Courts
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court of India (SC), highlighting the pendency of approx. 3.5 crore cases in District Courts, inter alia seeking formal guidelines and rule of procedures for the appointment of Judges in the Lower Courts
Mr. Shrikant Prasad (petitioner) - a final year law student has filed a PIL under Article 32 of the Constitution of India in the SC stating that the delay in the administration of justice causes mental harassment to both victims and accused.
He further emphasized that it amounts to a denial of the Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, referring to the case of Hussainara Khatoon (IV) v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar [(1980) 1 SCC 98.
The petitioner requested the Top Court to give directions to the concerned authorities to fill the vacant posts of lower Courts. It was also pleaded by the petitioner to increase the number of Judges in proportion as laid down in the case of All India Judges Association & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors., 2002 SC 247.
In the above-mentioned case, the Top Court had directed the Central Government and the State Governments to increase the number of Judges in Trial Courts aiming to curb delays and adjournments.
In the PIL it was highlighted that approx.3.5 crore cases are pending in District Courts of India and out of which approx. 2.5 crore cases are of criminal nature. It was also pointed out in the PIL that it has been above 30 years, and approximately 56,000 cases are still pendingin the lower Courts. The PIL raised a concern about the pending cases and emphasized that justice delayed is justice denied.
The writ petition states, "The issue of judicial backlog and delay is widely acknowledged and extensively written about, but it seems to be nowhere close to being resolved. Today, a litigant can be stuck in court corridors for decades the original litigant may not even be alive by the time the court resolves the issue. It is a stretch to describe any verdict given after decades as 'justice'."
The petition further read that the basic reason for backlogs of cases and delay in justice is less number of Judges and corresponding Staff in the lower Courts. Judges are overburdened and cases are piling up year by year. Reliance was placed on a 2019 report published by the Union Law Ministry and it was submitted by the petitioner that there are merely 20 judges per 10 lakh people in India, as compared to 17 in 2014.
According to a report published by the Supreme Court of India (SC), the subordinate judiciary requires more than 5,000 courtrooms to accommodate more than 20,000 judicial officers. It was also emphasized that there is a dire need to fill more than 40,000 staff positions that are vacant for the past many years.
The Petitioner has also put forth his suggestion that the Top Court and the High Court may exercise their powers under Article 127 of the Constitution to appoint efficient Judges as AD-HOC Judges. He further sought directions of the SC for ensuring that proper infrastructures of Subordinate Courts are maintained.