Considering that the Chief Justice himself is a part of the process of appointment of judges, the Chief Justice Dipankar Datta of the Bombay High Court recused himself from hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking that the process of appointment of judges be expedited.
A PIL filed by Dr Sharmila Ghuge, professor of law at Mumbai University, had come up for hearing before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar on Monday.
Apart from expediting the process, the PIL also prayed that retired high court judges be appointed as ad-hoc judges till the process of fulfilling the sanctioned strength of 94 regular judges is completed.
CJ Datta recused himself from hearing the PIL and said that it be heard by another bench.
The petition stated that while the Central Government is increasing the sanctioned strength of judges in the Bombay High Court, an adequate number of judges aren’t being appointed to fulfil the sanctioned strength.
Against a sanctioned strength of 94 judges, the Bombay High Court has 62 Judges, some of whom will retire soon.
The process of appointing regular judges may take time, meanwhile, the court can exercise its powers Article 224-A of the Constitution to appoint retired judges, the petition states.
The petition seeks that the guidelines laid down by the Apex Court in Lok Prahari v. Union of India be implemented by the Bombay High Court. The guidelines need to be followed if there are more than 20% vacancies in a court. Bombay High Court has a 34% vacancy.
The petition submits that 5,92,648 cases are pending before the court. Out of these, 2,31,401 civil cases and 33,353 criminal cases are pending for more than 5 years.
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