Hyderabad: The stalemate with regard to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) has led to none of the 392 judges’ vacancies in various High Courts across the country being filled.
The Government of India on April 13, 2015 had notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 and the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 for bringing in a change in the existing system for appointment of judges in Supreme Court and High Courts.
As per the existing system, a collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India and three senior-most judges are empowered to make recommendations to the Centre for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts and also elevation of high court judges as Chief Justices and permanent judges.
The Centre had decided to replace the existing collegium system with the NJAC, which would be chaired by the Chief Justice of India, and would also comprise two senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court, the Union minister of law and justice and two eminent persons to be nominated by a committee of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha — if there is no Leader of the Opposition, then the leader of the single largest Opposition party in Lok Sabha.
After the notification of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014, certain people had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Act and a Bench had reserved its orders in July this year.
Though there was no stay from the Supreme Court on the NJAC Act, neither the collegium nor the Centre has made any effort to fill the vacancies.
According to the Union Law ministry, most High Courts across the country function with less than 50 per cent of the sanctioned strength of judges.
According to the ministry, the high courts of Hyderabad, Guwahati, Gujarat, Karnataka, Patna, Punjab and Haryana and Rajasthan are functioning with acting Chief Justices.
A senior judicial officer in the Hyderabad High Court said the sanctioned strength of judges was 49 though the court was currently functioning with 27 judges, which was resulting in a rise in pending cases....