Highlighting the severity of the shortage of judges in the country, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur nearly broke down in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday as he spoke about the pressure on the Indian judiciary. Thakur made his emotional speech during the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices in Delhi.
Justice Thakur stated there were 3 crore cases pending before the country and only 18,000 judges to handle them. He called for vacancies in high courts and lower courts to be filled immediately and also suggested that services of retired judges who were willing to work be utilised as per the provisions of the Constitution, according to the Press Information Bureau.
"It is not only in the name of a litigant or people languishing in jails but also in the name of development of the country, its progress, that I beseech you to rise to the occasion and realise that it is not enough to criticise. You cannot shift the entire burden on the judiciary," CJI Thakur said, while getting teary-eyed, according to the Times of India.
Comparing the work load on Indian judges with that of their counterparts in the United States, Justice Thakur said the former disposed 2,600 cases in a year compared to 81 cases by the American judges.
The chief justice of India had raised the matter last month as well, during a function to mark the 150th anniversary of the Allahabad High Court, also stating that 468 of around 900 posts of high court judges across the country were vacant. Last year, former Chief Justice of India HL Dattu had also referred to the long delays in disposing cases as the biggest challenge to India's legal system.
PM Modi acknowledged the concern in his speech at the joint conference on Sunday and said the government and the judiciary should work together to resolve the issues.
He also called on Justice Thakur and other judges to join a closed-door meeting with him and Cabinet ministers to discuss judicial reforms.