A book launch held on Tuesday saw Justice DY Chandrachud of the Supreme Court make pertinent observations on various contemporary issues, including filling up judicial vacancies. Among other suggestions, Justice Chandrachud noted that the appointment of ad-hoc judges could help alleviate the problem. In this regard, he also recounted that ad-hoc judges have been appointed in the past..Responding to a query posed by Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, Justice Chandrachud said,.“The Constitution does provide for the appointment of ad-hoc judges. The Supreme court has had ad-hoc judges in the past. When the famous Kesavananda Bharti case was being heard, 13 judges had to hear that case. So, they had to appoint three retired judges as ad-hoc judges to man the day-to-day work.“.He also acknowledged that a factor contributing to judicial vacancies is the retirement age of High Court judges. Justice Chandrachud queried why the retirement age for judges of the High Courts should not be increased to bring it on par with the retirement age for Supreme Court judges. He observed,.“In High Courts for instance, judges retire at the age of 62. It is a very very young age (to retire). You retire judges when they are at the peak of their mental abilities. Many of our district judges come into the High Court at 57 or 58. So they are left with only four or five years before they retire..Judges of the Supreme Court retire at 65. So it is a very strong argument that judges of High Courts should be retiring at the same age. If you are good enough to serve as a judge of the Supreme Court until a particular age, why are you not good enough to serve as a judge of the High Court or the District Court?”.Watch the video:.His speech served to highlight that it is difficult to fill up judicial vacancies as there is a limited pool of potential nominees for the Bench. On this aspect, he remarked,.“… the problem is this. I will give you the example of Allahabad High Court where I was the Chief Justice. It has a sanctioned strength of 160. If the High Court today has, say, 110 judges, the simple question is where are you going to find 50 more judges from the Bar or even from the District Judges?.And there will be attrition as people who attain the age of 62 will retire. It is difficult to fill up vacancies because we need people of merit and integrity and the whole process takes time.”.The solution to the problem, Justice Chandrachud proceeded to opine, is to have ad-hoc judges. Further, he batted for the appointment of suitable lawyers as short-term judges handling a specific portfolio, as an out-of-box solution. This, he opined, was important to resolve the issue of judicial vacancies..“We also need to think out of the box. For instance, why don’t we tap members of the Bar who may not have become full-time judges for the entirety of their career but whose integrity and credentials are beyond doubt. They can be appointed for a short term of two or three years..Such lawyers can be appointed to deal with a specific backlog of cases, say cases related to arbitration or Intellectual Property. Similarly, retired judges can also be so appointed to deal with say old criminal appeals..So, we will have to think out of the box. Merely asking what judges and government are doing to fill up vacancies. The Collegium is working hard to fill up vacancies, I know that. The government is also working hard to fill up vacancies. The point is if we need quality, that process will take time. So we need to supplement that process with short term appointments as well.“.Bar & Bench is available on WhatsApp. For real-time updates on stories, Click here to subscribe to our WhatsApp.