CJI turns emotional, tells PM Narendra Modi not to shift entire burden on judiciary

New Delhi, April 24 : Chief Justice T.S. Thakur on Sunday made an emotive appeal to the government to have more judges to ensure justice for all, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say he will tackle “the serious concerns”.

Addressing a conference of chief ministers, chief justices of high courts and Supreme Court judges, Chief Justice Thakur said India’s judiciary suffered from a poor judge-population ratio and serious vacancies even as it dealt with an “avalanches of cases”.

The ratio was dismal compared to even other developed countries, he said, looking at the prime minister who was on the dais.

The chief justice took on the government over the failure to come up with judicial reforms, said judges should be told to work extra years when they retire, and hit out at the “commercial courts”.

“It is not enough to criticise. You can’t shift the entire burden on judges,” he said, pointing out that nine judges of the American Supreme Court together decided 81 cases in a year whereas a judge in the Indian Supreme Court decided 2,600 cases a year.

“The only remedy is to establish more courts and increase the strength of the judges to 50 judges per million population.”

According to the programme schedule, the chief justice was to speak for no more than 15 minutes. But an emotive Justice Thakur spoke for more than 35 minutes as he gave vent to his frustration.

Modi offered to set up a committee of government officers and people from the judiciary to address the issues. “I will make efforts to address the serious concerns.”

India, the chief justice said, cannot achieve economic growth without a robust judiciary overseen by an adequate number of judges. This was also needed to attract foreign capital.

“Those whom we are inviting (to invest) are also concerned with the judicial system and justice delivery,” he said. “Efficacy of the judicial system is so vitally connected with the development of the country.”

He moaned that the suggestions of the apex court collegium for appointing more judges were pending with the government but “nothing really appears to be moving”.

Justice delivery system was an illusion for 30 percent of the population living below poverty line, he said. “The infrastructure in the subordinate courts needs to be upgraded and vacancies filled.”

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