By Aswathy P S
The Honourable Supreme court of India during the hearing of two PILs suggested the Attorney General of India, Mr. R. Venkatarami and Senior Advocate, Mr. Arvind P. Datar to come with out-of-the-box thinking on rising case pendency in High courts across the country like appointment of senior advocates of High courts as ad-hoc judges for next hearing.The cases filed by an NGO named LokPrahari were hearing by Justices Sanjay KishanKaul, A.S. Oka and VikramNath.
In April 2021 the court had put forward five situations in which the ad-hoc judges can be appointed to a limited period by chief justice of High court with the prior permission of the president according to article 224A of the Constitution of India. Vacancies more than 20% of sanctioned strength, over 5 year pendency of particular category of cases, more than 10% backlog of 5 year over pending cases, lower rate of disposal than institution of cases and lower rate of disposal of cases than rate of filing of cases for one or more year are the situations mentioned. In the present hearing the court emphasised on who can be appointed as ad-hoc judges.
The retired judges, if they are willing to join the bench can be appointed as ad-hoc judges as they are experienced. The senior advocates who arereluctant to give up their practice permanently but willing to join bench for temporarily can also be appointed as ad-hoc judges. On their humanitarianism they are even ready to abstain from practice on the same High court after the period of sitting as judge. These appointments can be simpler than usual because they are coming to the post not the first time and it is too with the recommendation of chief justices of respective High courts.
Apart from these suggestions judges asked for more out-of-the-box thinking because of alarming pendency of cases in High courts. Until July 2022, over 59 lakh cases were pending in various High courts. Allahabad high court itself has 10 lakh pending cases. Another suggestion is that the appointment has to be made into effect with in limited time so as to maintain the interest of those meritorious candidates and to prevent losses of justice delivery system in India. It was also mentioned that the matter of case is something which framers of Constitution had also taken into consideration at the making of Constitution. More suggestions are expected on next hearing on February 8th, 2023.