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Joint Conference of Chief Ministers of States and Chief Justices of High Courts
Apr 27, 2016

A Joint Conference of Chief Justices of High Courts and Chief Ministers of States was held 24th April, at Vigyan Bhawan, in New Delhi. The conference was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Justice T.S. Thakur, Chief Justice, Supreme Court and D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Union Law and Justice Minister were also present.

  • Chief Ministers of all the States and Chief Justices of all the High Courts had been invited to the Conference.

The Joint Conference was an occasion for the executive and the judiciary to reaffirm their resolve to support a speedy, efficient and quality justice delivery in the country, and to discuss steps required to surmount the various challenges facing the justice system, such as inordinate delays in disposal of cases in courts, facilitating access to speedy resolution of commercial disputes by economic operators, making the justice system user friendly and affordable to all and improving the quality of legal aid services in the country.

A number of positive steps have been taken in the recent past to meet these challenges. The increased investment in infrastructure has resulted in India having more court halls in aggregate than functional courts.

  • The e-Courts Mission Mode Project has enabled litigants and lawyers to access their case data and cause lists online and facilitated monitoring of courts and cases by the judiciary.

  • The new legislation on setting up commercial courts and changes in the legislation on arbitration and negotiable instruments have brought the efforts to improve the ease of doing business into sharp focus for both the judiciary and the executive to act in unison.

These initiatives of the Government have further crystallised the issues still ailing the justice delivery system. Additional steps required for speedy resolution of disputes through improvements in court and case management system and simplifying the court procedures, strengthening the legal aid system and handling of cases involving juvenile offenders, implementation by the States of the measures related to the judiciary mandated by the 14th Finance Commission, review of quality of legal education and operationalization of commercial courts are some of these issues.

A comprehensive agenda on these issues has been drawn up for the Conference by the Government in consultation with the judiciary.

  • It was an occasion for the constellation of Chief Ministers of States and Chief Justices of High Courts, who assembled in New Delhi to confer on these issues, to deliberate on the further steps required to ensure that the justice delivery system dispenses speedy, affordable and quality justice to all as well as contributes to the ease of doing business in order to achieve the desired economic growth.
  • The Conference was come up with outcomes in the form of resolutions for implementation by the judiciary and the Central and State governments.

  • This conference is held periodically to address pressing issues relating to the administration of justice in the country. Last year it was held on 5th April, 2015.

Shortage of Judges in India

According to the latest data complied by the Law Ministry, out of the approved strength of 1,044 judges in the 24 High Courts, there are 443 vacancies. The high courts are functioning with 601 judges as on January 1, 2016.

  • The Allahabad High Court faces the maximum vacancies of 86 judges, followed by 38 in the Madras High Court. The approved strength of the Madras High Court has been increased from 60 to 75 with effect from December 21, 2015.

  • The High Courts of Bombay and Punjab and Haryana have 35 vacancies each. While the Meghalaya High Court is one judge short of its approved strength of four, the Sikkim High Court with an approved strength of three is also short of one judge.

  • The High Court of Tripura has no vacancy,

  • With an approved strength of 31 judges, the Supreme Court also has 5 vacancies.

There was no system in place between April 13 and October 16 last year on appointments to the Supreme Court and the high courts.The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and an accompanying Constitutional Amendment Act were notified on April 13, but were declared as unconstitutional by the top court on October 16.

When the NJAC Act was in force, the proposed panel had failed to function as erstwhile Chief Justice of India Justice H.L. Dattu had refused to be a part of it. No judge could be elevated as chief justice of a high court, transferred to another high court or elevated to the Supreme Court as there was no system in place for the purpose.

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