Supreme Court of India.

SC favours appointment of ad-hoc judges to clear case backlog in high courts

THE Supreme Court Thursday favoured the appointment of ad-hoc judges to tackle the huge pendency of cases across high courts.

There are suits pending for over 30 years, which also include criminal trials. The backlog of cases cannot be controlled unless ad-hoc judges are appointed to dispose of them, CJI SA Bobde remarked.

He clarified that ad-hoc appointments would not stall the system of regular appointments and since these judges would be treated as junior-most judges, there would no threat to the seniority of any regular judge.

CJI Bobde pointed out that the Constitution envisaged such appointments and that provision should be invoked to tackle the huge pendency of cases.

Article 22A of the Constitution provides for the appointment of retired judges to act as ad-hoc judges, who, while so sitting and acting, will be entitled to such allowances as the President may determine.

The court made these observations while hearing a petition filed by NGO Lok Prahari seeking ad hoc appointments in the Supreme Court and the high courts.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) RS Suri, for the Centre, said a reduction in the case pendency was the need of the hour and the government was not against such appointments.

The bench heard some high courts today and asked them to file their respective replies before the next date of hearing i.e. April 8.

It added no adjournment would be granted on the next date of hearing.

The bench is considering the modalities to be followed in the appointment of ad-hoc judges. For now, it is of the view that the process of appointment of ad-hoc judges would be similar to that of regular judges, that is, the name will need to be cleared by the Supreme Court Collegium.