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CJI Thakur berates Centre, says courts lying vacant without judges

Thakur said that in principle, the judiciary was not against the formation of Tribunals because it would relieve court duties, but the problem arose from the lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the Tribunals.
Tirath Singh Thakur: Chief Justice of India

Escalating the attack against the Centre for sitting over appointments of High Court judges, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Saturday stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s attitude was lackadaisical from the very issue of filling vacancies to providing adequate infrastructure.

Reiterating that there are 500 judges’ posts lying vacant in High Courts, the CJI said that courtrooms are lying vacant without judges.

Thakur further added, in principle, the judiciary was not against the formation of Tribunals because it would relieve court duties, but the problem arose from the lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the Tribunals.

He said: “Tribunals are not equipped and are lying empty. Today a situation has come that when no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I am pained to send my retired colleagues there. Government is not ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal.”

On October 28, Supreme Court had lambasted the NDA government for failing to appoint judges in various High Courts despite the collegium clearing some of the names more than nine months ago, in which a livid Thakur told Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, “You can as well close down the courts. Close down justice”.

“Today we have a situation where courtrooms are locked because there are no judges. For example, Karnataka where one floor is shut. Why don’t you lock the courts and lock out justice? Executive inaction is decimating the institution,” the CJI had said.

Meanwhile, Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, stating that he “respectfully” disagrees with Thakur, said the government has so far appointed 120 High Court judges, adding this is the second highest number of appointments in the history of the country’s judicial system.

“We have got the highest regard for the CJI, but we respectfully disagree with him. This year we have made 120 appointments. This is the second highest after 121 were appointed in 2013. Since 1990 there had only been 80 appointments,” Prasad told reporters.

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