The inaugural session of the conclave was a panel discussion titled Acute Shortage of Judges, chaired by Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh with legal luminaries like Salman Khurshid, Shyam Divan, Jamshed P Cama, Basava Prabhu Patil and Priya Hingorani as panelists.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh emphasized on the need for finalizing the appointment of judges before the retirement of sitting judges, similar to the process of filling vacancies in the civil services. “I don’t understand why office of judge can be allowed to remain vacant. Why don’t we have a system where judges are appointed well before the date of retirement of the sitting judge. The entire issue that played out in public was about turf war, about who appoints rather than the quality of the judge.
He stated that the collegium system may not be perfect, but it is better than judges being appointed by the political class. He further stated that lobbying for elevation should be considered as a disqualification.
Former Union law minister Salman Khurshid has said the shortage of judges in the higher judiciary was “saddening” and called for steps to address the issue at the earliest.
Khurshid, himself a senior advocate, said that right to justice should get the attention similar to that of ‘Swachh Bharat’ programme and there were some “fundamental flaws” in the judicial system.
“We don’t have an appellate judiciary which is stable at the top. Number of Chief Justices serve a very short tenure,” he said at the conclave – ‘The Rule of Law Convention 2018 on Judicial Reforms’ – organised by the Bar Association of India here.
“The vacancies in the higher courts are very saddening. Young people should come and join the judiciary,” he said. “We need to take various steps to solve this issue at the earliest,” he said.
At present, the Supreme Court has 25 judges, including the Chief Justice of India, against the sanctioned strength of 31 judges. Several High Courts in the country are also facing a shortage of judges.