Published On: Fri, Aug 4th, 2017

Acting Chief Justice regrets non-appointment of judges

Kolkata: Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Nishita Mhatre today expressed anguish at non- appointment of judges in the high court, saying the court was constrained for time as it was functioning at less than half of its sanctioned strength.

cting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Nishita Mhatre today said in  the court was constrained for time as it was functioning at less than half of its sanctioned strength.

Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Nishita Mhatre today said in the court was constrained for time as it was functioning at less than half of its sanctioned strength.

“The high court has done its part (its collegium has sent recommendation of names). The Supreme Court has also done everything, but the central government is yet to clear appointment of new judges at the high court,” Justice Mhatre said.

“It is easy to criticise the judiciary for the public and the lawyers, but what can the court do? We do not have the time owing to lack of judges,” a visibly perturbed Justice Mhatre noted when a senior counsel said that delay in hearing a PIL moved by him would amount to denial of justice to thousands of students.

“What have you done to push for the cause? You (lawyers) resort to ceasework instead,” he said.

On a query by Justice Mhatre to Additional Solicitor General Kaushik Chanda as to what the Centre was doing to expedite appointment of judges in the high court, he said, “It is under consideration.”

At this, the acting Chief Justice wanted to know “for how long” as the last appointment in this high court was made more than one and a half years ago.

Criticising the Centre for delaying the appointment of judges, another division bench of the high court had on July 12 warned of “appropriate action” if urgent steps were not taken on it.

“Immediate action is called for to appoint maximum number of judges to prevent the justice delivery system from collapsing, which seems to be imminent,” a division bench of justices Dipankar Dutta and D P Dey said, pointing out that the functional strength of judges in the high court was 34 compared with a sanctioned strength of 72.

“In course of the next month, three judges and by November 8, 2017, another four judges, including the Hon’ble Acting Chief Justice, would lay down office,” the bench said.

“In February next year, three more judges would retire. If no judge is appointed by February 11, the vacancy would rise to nearly 66 per cent,” the bench had observed.

PTI

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