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Push to clear case pile-up

New Delhi, Feb. 27: Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir today asked all high court chief justices to “strongly” take up the matter of doubling the strength of subordinate courts and increasing the number of judges to expedite some three crore pending cases.

In a letter addressed to the chief justices, Justice Kabir regretted that despite an apex court directive in 2002, state governments had not taken any worthwhile steps.

The current sanctioned strength of judges in the country, including Supreme Court judges, is 18,871.

Justice Kabir said in the 2002 judgment, the top court had said the process for increasing posts and courts should be completed within five years. Yet, “as of date, the judge-population ratio is hardly 15.47 per 10 lakh people”, he said.

The CJI said he had in principle accepted a recent recommendation of an advisory committee headed by apex court judge P. Sathasivam that there should be 50 judges for every 10 lakh people.

Justice Kabir said the current annual outlay of most states was not even 1 per cent for the judiciary. “The central government has been forthcoming by providing funds for infrastructure and computerisation for (the) subordinate judiciary,” he wrote, adding that state governments “cannot avoid responsibility” when the subordinate judiciary was “primarily” their responsibility.

“I thus urge you to strongly take up the matter with the state government(s) so that the annual outlay by the state government(s) for (the) judiciary is increased. It is emphasised that the state government(s) must be persuaded to agree to double the existing number of courts in (the) subordinate judiciary along with the necessary furnished infrastructure and ministerial staff, at the earliest,” the letter said.

The letter also asked high courts to fill up vacancies.