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SC refuses to entertain PIL on doubling judges posts in district courts, HCs

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a PIL that sought a direction to the Centre and all states to double the number of judges in subordinate judiciary and high courts to effectively tackle the pendency of cases, saying such “populist” and “simplistic” measures cannot be the solution.

“Adding more judges is not the answer,” a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha orally observed which prompted lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay to withdraw his PIL.

Merely adding more judges is not the answer, you need good judges, the CJI said.

The moment Updhayay commenced his submissions, the bench said that these populist measures and simplistic solutions were unlikely to resolve the issue.

The CJI said that the Allahabad High Court, which is unable to fill its existing 160 sanctioned posts, should have 320 posts as per the PIL.

“It is difficult to fill the 160 seats in Allahabad High Court and you are asking for 320. Have you been to the Bombay High Court? Not even a single judge can be added there because there is no infrastructure. Adding more judges is not the answer,” the CJI said, adding that the lawyer must be ready to pay the cost of filing such a petition with no detailed study on the subject.

The lawyer then referred to the report of the law commission to buttress his submissions that to deal with the pendency of around five crore cases in the country, the judge-population ratio has to be enhanced substantially.

He then referred to the instance of the US where the judge-population ratio is far better than in India.

“This kind of petition would not be entertained by either the UK or in the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court does not even hear lawyers on whether cases should be admitted. This is because of our system,” the CJI said.

He asked the lawyer to do some research and file a fresh plea on the lack of judicial officers in the district judiciary.

“There are problems, but these simplistic things won’t be the solutions. When I was in Allahabad High Court, the then law minister had asked me to increase the judges to 25 percent. I was like good lord, I cannot even fill the 160… in the Bombay High Court how many lawyers are willing to accept a judgeship. Merely adding more judges is not the answer, you need good judges,” the CJI said.

The court permitted Upadhyay to withdraw the PIL with a liberty to file a fresh one with proper research on “statistics on recruitment, vacancies, etc” in the lower judiciary.

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