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The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Indu Malhotra today expressed its immense displeasure over the large number of pending criminal appeals and the failure of the Central and state governments to appoint ad-hoc judges.
Justice Nariman, visibly irked by the situation, pulled up the Union of India and the State of Madhya Pradesh over the appalling number of criminal appeals pending. Noting that the Criminal appeals preferred in the year 2001 and 2002 alone were being taken up for hearing in Madhya Pradesh, Justice Nariman said,
“There are criminal appeals pending for over 16 years, 20 years. Do you know how many people are languishing in jail because of this?”
Justice Nariman, referring to the resolution adopted by the former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur along with the then Chief Justices of various High Courts to appoint ad-hoc judges, said that no steps were being taken.
“We may indicate that a previous Chief Justice of this Court had meetings with the Chief Justices from all the States in which it was suggested, and finally adopted by way of Resolution, that ad-hoc Judges be appointed within the present constitutional scheme to take care of arrears of this kind… We want to know what steps were taken by the Union of India”, Justice Nariman said while dictating the order.
Justice Nariman said that this lethargic approach of the Centre and the states in dealing with pending criminal appeals was nothing short of “shocking”. He asked Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand to personally look into this matter.
“This is absolutely shocking. I’m personally very shocked. There are so many ad-hoc judges in the pipeline…Judges who have retired at 62…Use them”, Justice Nariman told the ASG.
Justice Nariman, in unequivocal terms, stated that it was the lackadaisical approach of the authorities which led to the suffering of the citizens. He said,
“Citizens of India have to face enormous hardships due to this lethargy. We’re not happy with the stand taken by the Centre or the state of MP.”
The Court has issued notice to all states and directed the Union to apprise the Court in eight weeks of the steps taken by the Central government regarding the appointment of ad-hoc judges to dispose of criminal appeals at the earliest. The Court will hear the matter next on September 18.