30th October, 2003
Ministry of Law & Justice


JUDGE STRENGTH IN HIGH COURTS INCREASED


The Government has decided to raise the Judge strength of High Courts to 749, which is an increase by 94 Judges over the present strength. This increase is more than those of 1995 and 1999 put together. The Judge strength of High Courts has been raised by 131 Judges in the last five years. The decision was taken following the just concluded comprehensive triennial review of the Judge strength of High Courts, including the three newly constituted High Courts of Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal.

The first review of Judge strength of High Courts was undertaken in 1995 and the approved strength of Judges in 18 High Courts was fixed on the basis of the revised guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India. The approved strength on December 31, 1998 was 618 comprising 498 permanent Judges and 120 Additional Judges. After the triennial review in 1999, the approved Judge strength was increased to 655 consisting of 514 permanent Judges and 141 Additional Judges.

The salient features of the outcome of the latest review are:

    • Six High Courts have normatively qualified for increased Judge strength;
    • Some High Courts have performed well above the national average, but the strength is adequate;
    • Some High Courts have not qualified normatively for increased strength, their performance being below the national average.

The Minister of Law & Justice and Commerce & Industry, Shri Arun Jaitley, has communicated the results of the review to the Chief Justices of all High Courts on October 22, 2003 requesting them to forward proposals for increasing the Judge strength through the Chief Ministers of the respective States. He has expressed concern over the continuing vacancies and has conveyed to the Chief Justice that it hinders the administration of criminal justice system. Shri Jaitley has also requested the Chief Justice of India to advise the Chief Justices of High Courts to take immediate steps for initiating proposals for the appointment of Judges of the respective High Courts so that the large number of vacancies of Judges in the various High Courts is filled up without any delay.

The Government has taken a holistic view for fixing the judge strength in High Courts with reference to the transfer policy of Judges, corporate and taxation cases in High Courts. Future requirement of judges of Madras High Court for its Bench at Madurai (as and when it becomes functional) and liquidation of cases transferred from the High Courts of Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh to Uttaranchal and Chhattisgarh High Courts respectively have also been taken into account.

While the strength of Calcutta, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Patna, Orissa and Punjab & Haryana High Courts is proposed to be increased by 13, 13, 11, 12, 11 and 13 Judges respectively, the strength of Allahabad, Bombay and Madras High Courts will be increased by conversion of posts of Additional Judges into permanent ones. In the case of Chhatisgarh and Uttaranchal, apart from conversion of Additional posts into permanent ones, two more posts of Judges each have been approved.

In respect of the Gauhati High Court, it has been decided to create eight posts of Additional Judges. The approved strength of the High Court in September 2008, however, would be 24 Judges irrespective of the outcome of triennial review of Judge strength in 2006. This decision was arrived at in view of the difficulties in meeting the requirements of its six Benches and the impact on the Principal Bench. The Bar in the northeast was greatly agitated on the issue.

There is also a proposal to increase the Judge strength of the Delhi High Court by three Additional Judges.

The Supreme Court of India, in its judgement on October 6, 1993, had held that the Judge strength of every High Court should be reviewed periodically with reference to the felt-need for disposal of cases, taking into account the backlog and expected future filing. The Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers held on December 4, 1993 to consider various measures for liquidation of the large number of cases pending in Subordinate Courts/High Courts, had passed a resolution that the Judge strength of the High Courts should be reviewed once every three years.

According to the guidelines finalized in 1994 on the recommendation of the then Chief Justice of India, the required strength of permanent Judges in a High Court is worked out by dividing the average institution of main cases during the last five years by the national average or the average rate of disposal of main cases per Judge per year in that High Court, whichever is higher.

Similarly, the required strength of Additional Judges in a High Court is worked out by dividing the number of main cases pending over two years by the national average or the average rate of disposal of main cases per Judge per year in that High Court, whichever is higher. If the average rate of disposal of main cases per Judge per year in the concerned High Court is below even the national average, then instead of increasing the strength, the concerned High Court is required to take steps for improvement in the rate of disposal of cases. If the average rate of disposal of main cases in the concerned High Court is above the national average, then increase in the Judge strength is considered.

Encl : 1

Sl. No.

High Court

Approved Strength

1992

Approved Strength

1995

Approved Strength

1999

Proposed Increase

Proposed Increase

2003

1.

Allahabad

77

77

95

--

95

2.

Andhra Pradesh

36

39

39

--

39

3.

Bombay

60

60

60

--

60

4.

Calcutta

50

50

50

13

63

5.

Chhattisgarh

--

--

06

02

08

6.

Delhi

33

33

33

03

36

7.

Gauhati

19

19

19

08

27

8.

Gujarat

30

42

42

--

42

9.

Himachal Pradesh

08

08

08

01

09

10.

Jammu & Kashmir

11

14

14

--

14

11.

Jharkhand

--

--

12

--

12

12.

Karnataka

30

40

40

--

40

13.

Kerala

24

29

29

11

40

14.

Madhya Pradesh

35

35

29

13

42

15.

Madras

32

42

42

05

47

16.

Orissa

16

16

16

11

27

17.

Patna

39

39

31

12

43

18.

Punjab & Haryana

33

40

40

13

53

19.

Rajasthan

32

32

40

--

40

20.

Sikkim

03

03

03

--

03

21.

Uttaranchal

--

--

07

02

09

 

Total

568

618

655

94

749

Note : Increase of Judge Strength from 1992-1995 = 50

Increase of Judge Strength from 1995-1999 = 37

Increase of Judge Strength from 1999-2003 = 94 (proposed)

Encl : 2

Statement showing the number of cases pending in each High Court

As on 31.12.2002

Sl. No.

High Court

Total No. of Cases pending

No. of cases pending over 2 years

1.

Allahabad

697995

549061

2.

Andhra Pradesh

143460

082990

3.

Bombay

313916

222324

4.

Calcutta

299295

210988

5.

Chhattisgarh

34303

009151

6.

Delhi

111763

094799

7.

Gauhati

-

012357

8.

Gujarat

111169

064665

9.

Himachal Pradesh

17468

009151

10.

Jammu & Kashmir

21474

008823

11.

Jharkhand

5480

007470

12.

Karnataka

104177

025596

13.

Kerala

182853

118138

14.

Madhya Pradesh

140156

074508

15.

Madras

185281

081117

16.

Orissa

102181

062693

17.

Patna

317584

108066

18.

Punjab & Haryana

241851

169145

19.

Rajasthan

446773

50984

20.

Sikkim

261

00059

21.

Uttaranchal

31261

22198

 

Total

3368621

2164182

   
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