Calcutta High Court running with only 39 out of 72 judges, over 2.34 lakh cases pending

Kolkata: Working with only 39 judges out of the sanctioned strength of 72 judges, the Calcutta High Court is grappling with over two lakh pending cases. The Union Ministry of Law and Justice on Saturday announced the appointment of three more additional judges to the Calcutta High Court, taking the number to 42. A total […]
 


Calcutta High Court running with only 39 out of 72 judges, over 2.34 lakh cases pending

Kolkata: Working with only 39 judges out of the sanctioned strength of 72 judges, the Calcutta High Court is grappling with over two lakh pending cases. The Union Ministry of Law and Justice on Saturday announced the appointment of three more additional judges to the Calcutta High Court, taking the number to 42. A total of 2,34,539 cases are pending before the High Court despite efforts by the judiciary to reduce them. Backlog.

Legal experts say that there is a need to increase the number of judges at the earliest to deal with the backlog as well as the newly filed petitions.

Operating with only 39 judges out of 72

 

As per the data provided on its website, the Calcutta High Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 72 judges, is functioning with only 39 judges.

After the three newly appointed judges are sworn in, the number will increase to 42, but will still be 30 or 41.66 percent less than the sanctioned strength.

 

Former Supreme Court judge Justice (Retd) Ashok Ganguly said that the strength of the High Court and the sub-divisional and district courts, which are also facing similar issues, should be increased immediately by increasing the number of judges.

Over 2.3 lakh cases pending

According to the data, out of 2,34,539 cases pending till February 28, civil cases account for 1,97,184, while the number of criminal cases pending as on that date is 37,355.

 

While the seat of the High Court is in Kolkata, it has permanent circuit benches at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Jalpaiguri in North Bengal.

“Even with full strength, the number of judges is inadequate and hence it is far more difficult to reduce the backlog as it is less than 40 per cent,” Ganguly said.

He told PTI that the number of new cases in the court is increasing as people have nowhere else to go to get justice.

“The number of cases is increasing while the number of judges is decreasing, the governments need to expedite the appointment of new judges,” he said.

Stating that both the central and state governments need to do more to defuse the situation, Ganguly said there are huge vacancies in the lower judiciary as well, which need to be filled.

According to the National Judicial Data Grid, a total of 26,64,284 cases are pending in various courts of West Bengal as of May 14.

According to the data, 20,47,901 of these are criminal, while 6,16,383 are civil cases.

Ganguly said the litigants were facing immense hardship due to the lack of adequate number of judges and large number of pending cases.

He said that the lawyers also need to make extra efforts to get timely justice to the litigants.

Arunabha Ghosh, president of the Calcutta High Court Bar Association, said that due to insufficient power of the bench, a situation has also arisen where judges are not always getting jurisdiction as per their expertise.

The jurisdiction of a judge is the discretion of the Chief Justice to specify the subjects on which a judge will hear petitions.

“Several recommendations of the High Court Collegium which have also been passed by the Supreme Court Collegium are pending before the Union Ministry of Law and Justice,” he said, adding that these need to be acted upon expeditiously.

Claiming that over 200 posts of judges are vacant in high courts across the country, Ghosh called for immediate filling up of these posts for speedy disposal of cases.

Recognizing that there is a need to increase the number of service judges in the lower judiciary, he also called for more concerted efforts by all stakeholders to fast-track the justice delivery system.

A joint conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts was held in New Delhi on 30 April to discuss the creation of a framework for simple and convenient delivery of justice.