Huge Vacancy of Judges, Low Representation of Women: CJI NV Ramana on Judiciary’s ‘Difficult Challenges’


Terming the large vacancies of judges as one of many “troublesome challenges”, Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana on Saturday expressed hope that the government will ensure swift clearance of names recommended by the Collegium for appointment to high courts as it did for the apex court. He also said a comprehensive proposal for creating the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation is under preparation and will be sent to the government soon.

The judicial system is facing difficult challenges like that of deficient infrastructure, shortage of administrative staff and huge vacancies of judges,” the CJI stated at a perform organised by the Bar Council of India (BCI) to felicitate him. On the appointments to the upper judiciary, the CJI thanked the prime minister and the Union Law Minister, who was current on the occasion, for the clearance to the 9 names, advisable by the Collegium for appointment as judges to the apex court docket, at a jet pace.

I need to thank the prime minister and regulation minister and the Government of India for clearing the names, he stated. The CJI stated that it has been his endeavour to handle the problem of vacancies within the larger judiciary on an “pressing foundation” and noted that due to the collective efforts, the vacancy in the top court is now reduced to just one.

Similarly, after I took over, the Collegium has recommended, if I am not wrong, 82 names to various high courts. “I hope the government will ensure that the names are cleared at the earliest just the way the nine names were cleared for the apex court. It is an ongoing process. We hope to live up to the herculean challenge of filling nearly 41 percent vacancies existing in all the high courts, he said.

The CJI said in another month, he expects that 90 percent of vacancies will be filled. He said he wanted to place on record his sincere thanks to his colleagues in the Collegium — Justices U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao — for becoming active and constructive partners in this endeavour.

The CJI also expressed concern over the low representation of women in the judicial system. Among those who attended the event were several sitting judges of the apex court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, and office bearers and members of several bar bodies from across the country.

On the issue of judicial infrastructure, Justice Ramana said he has prepared a report collecting information from every part of the country and he would send it to the law minister very soon. Highlighting the problems faced by litigants and lawyers, especially women advocates in the courts, he said if a national-level judicial infrastructure corporation is created, it can take care of these issues.

He said earlier he had seen that there were no toilets for women lawyers in the courts. “I have been emphasising on augmenting the infrastructure for very long. I have a proposal to address this issue in a time-bound manner. A comprehensive proposal for the creation of the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation is under preparation, he said, adding a proposal in this regard will reach the Law Minister very soon.

I expect full cooperation from the government, he said. The CJI said though access to justice has been strongly provided, still lakhs of people are unable to approach the courts to seek remedy and high expenditure and long delays, which are a part of our legal process, are the biggest challenge.

Justice Ramana said another area that needs to be highlighted is that majority of women lawyers struggle within the profession and very few of them have found representation at the top. After 75 years of independence, one would expect at least 50 percent representation for women at all levels but I must admit, with great difficulty we have now achieved a mere 11 percent of women representation on the bench of the Supreme Court, he said.

The CJI said some states, because of reservation policy, may reveal higher representation but the reality remains that the legal profession still has to welcome women into its fold. He said bar council and bar associations are his weakness and he has enjoyed his life as a member of the bar more than as a judge.

Today, I feel that more than being felicitated, I am being reminded of my responsibilities as the Chief Justice of India, he said. The CJI highlighted a new trend in the profession similar to what has happened in foreign countries.

I am referring to corporatisation of the profession, he said, adding, Common people cannot afford quality legal advice at corporate prices which is an area of concern. Sending a message to young members of the bar, he said being at the frontline of the legal system, they must protect the institution from targeted, motivated and malafide attacks.

The CJI said that during the function he was referred to as former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar but he must correct the perception. Like any game, it is a team effort. Unless all the members of the team perform well, it is difficult to win, he said.

Apex court judge Justice Vineet Saran, who also addressed the gathering, said the CJI is a person with a golden heart. Yesterday, somebody informed me that a young girl has written to the chief justice that when schools have opened, when colleges, all others businesses are going on, why are not the courts opening? I am told that the CJI has treated it as a PIL and it will be taken up, he said.

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