Calcutta High Court undergoing ‘judge crisis’, Youth Bar Association moves Supreme Court

Calcutta High Court undergoing ‘judge crisis’, Youth Bar Association moves Supreme Court

Shruti Mahajan

The Youth Bar Association of India has filed a petition before the Supreme Court praying for directions to be issued to the Supreme Court Collegium and Calcutta High Court Collegium to fill up vacancies in the Calcutta High Court.

The petition drawn by advocates Sanpreet Singh Ajmani, Kuldeep Rai, Manohar Pratap and Varun Mishra and filed through advocate Manju Jetley prays for issuance of writ of Mandamus to direct the respondents, Union of India, Supreme Court Collegium, and the High Court Collegium (Calcutta) to appoint judges in conformity with the sanctioned strength as expeditiously as possible so as to meet the needs to litigants suffering from “delay in access to justice.”

The petition states that the due to non-appointment of judges, the fundamental rights of the citizens under Articles 14, 19 and 21 are in violation since citizens’ right to speedy justice is being violated.

The petitioner has submitted that even after representations were sent to the Governor of State of West Bengal and to the Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court in this regard, no progress was made towards filling the vacant positions of Judges. The Bar Association of Calcutta High Court, in February, passed a resolution to refrain from attending the Court as a mark of protest against delay in appointment of judges and these events collectively are causing great hardships to citizens. This stalemate, the petitioner states, has prompted it to approach the Supreme Court.

The petition underlines that it is the Chief Justice of a High Court who has the authority to initiate the process of appointment of judges to that High Court. Placing reliance on data published by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice on February 1, 2018, the petitioner states that Calcutta High Court is going through a phase of ‘judge crisis’ with 42 posts out of a sanctioned strength of 72 judges, both permanent and additional, remaining vacant.

The petitioner cites the instance of December 2017 when, despite a large number of posts of permanent judges remaining vacant, the Law Ministry considered only three out of five names recommended, that too for the post of additional judge. This move, the petitioner says, is in contravention of Para 22 of the Memorandum of Procedure which says, “the Chief Justice of the High Court, however, should not make a recommendation of the appointment of an Additional Judge when a vacancy of permanent judge is available in that High Court.”

Stating that the fundamental right of citizens to avail speedy justice stands violated due to non-appointment of judges, the petitioner has sought a writ of mandamus to be issued to the respondents to end this “judge crisis” as expeditiously as possible.

Read petition below:

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news