NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur appeared to be under a lot of pressure on Sunday – so much so that he broke down in front of PM Narendra Modi.
Justice Thakur was most vexed about India’s overworked judiciary and bemoaned that the common man’s faith in the justice system is at an all-time low. He was speaking at the inauguration of a joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts, that the PM also attended.
Cases, the CJI said, are piling up and there aren’t enough judges to hear them.
He lamented “inaction” by the Executive in increasing the number of judges to 40,000 from the current 21,000. That, he said is the reason the judiciary is unable to handle the “avalanche” of litigation.
“…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 said, choking up again.
Justice Thakur said that since 1987, when the Law Commission had recommended an increase in the number of judges from 10 judges per 10 lakh people to 50 judges per 10 lakh people, “nothing has moved..Then comes inaction by the government as the increase (in the strength of judges) does not take place,” he added.
He 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 lower than it is in 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,” the CJI said.
Efficacy of the judicial system is vitally connected with the Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Ease of doing business’ campaigns, he said.
“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,” the CJI said.
Prime Minister Modi assured the CJI of his government’s resolve in finding a solution jointly with the judiciary.
The PM also said efficiency when making laws needs to be increased. “There are so many laws that are redundant and not suited for the times, those need to be removed,” PM Modi said.
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