The Bombay Lawyers Association has approached the Bombay High Court against the high number of vacancies in the institution and for a permanent mechanism to fill these vacancies on time.
Despite having a sanctioned complement of 94 judges, the Bombay HC currently operates with a complement of only 57 judges. Eleven Bombay HC judges are retiring this year. Therefore, by the end of 2022, the CH will have only 48 judges if vacancies are not filled.
The applicant association states that the number of judges sanctioned by the Court has not been filled for some time.
“Due to the shortage of judges, it is known that there is a huge backlog of cases for years. There are so many cases that are not even listed for hearing. Due to the shortage of judges, no urgent registrations are granted.Official data from the Honorable This Court’s website shows that the case resolution rate in 2021 is 67.52%, which means that there are 32.48% cases pending in 2021”, indicates the petition.
He therefore adds, “The petitioner submits this public interest petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, requesting the diction of a permanent mechanism to fill vacancies of judges as soon as they arise. The petitioner also seeks instructions to fill vacancies for Judges in Bombay Hon’ble High Court according to sanctioned strength.”
Respondents to the petition include the Registrars General of the Supreme Court of India and the High Court of Bombay, Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Law and Justice (Maharashtra).
The petitioner states that it is a group of lawyers practicing in the High Court of Bombay whose main objective is to undertake activities aimed at facilitating the improvement of the quality of legal services.
According to the petitioners, while the sanctioned complement of judges of the Bombay High Court is 94, 71 of them are supposed to be permanent and 23 are supplementary judges.
The High Court of Bombay is one of the three High Courts of India established in the cities of the Presidency by Letters Patent granted by Queen Victoria on June 26, 1862. It was inaugurated on August 14, 1862 under Indian High Courts Act 1861.
The Bombay High Court, with its main seat in Mumbai, has benches in Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa, as well as in the union territories of Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
Judges are appointed by the President of India on the communication and recommendation of the College of the High Court and the Supreme Court of India under Article 217 of the Constitution. The number of judges in a court is determined by dividing the average number of cases filed in the last five years by the national average, or the average rate of disposition of leading cases per judge per year in that High Court, according to the highest value.
“The Applicant states and contends that out of 57 serving judges, 9 judges will retire at the end of this year. Under the circumstances, if vacancies are not filled, the complement of judges of the Bombay High Court will be reduced to 48 at the end of this year 2022.”
The petitioners claimed that “failure to fill all vacancies for judges is an immediate denial of access to justice for citizens. It is pertinent to note that failure to fill vacancies for judges in time leads to a delay in the administration of justice. The petitioner further submits that this shortage of judges in the judicial system is a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens.”
The association says it is high time for a permanent mechanism to be created to timely fill the positions of judges as soon as they become vacant.
“That people are languishing in jail and their hail claim is pending due to the unavailability of judges.”
The petition will arrive in due time.