A glaring and also debilitating drawback of our judiciary is that the numbers of judges at various levels of judicial structure are not commensurate with the population they are supposed to handle. There has been a chronic deficit in the judicial manpower with the result that we have perhaps the world’s largest pendency. There have been repeated efforts by the Supreme Court and other judicial dignitaries to implore the Government or the Law Ministry in particular to formulate a definite policy that would define the ratio between the number of judges and the number of people over whom they will have the jurisdiction to adjudicate on legal issues brought to their notice. Successive Governments paid no heed to this request or suggestion. Last year, the then Chief Justice of India lamented the executive’s inaction in at least doubling the number of judges to handle the “avalanche” of litigations, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to assure him of the Government’s resolve in finding a solution jointly with the judiciary.
It seems PM Modi has kept his promise. Based on the 2011 census and sanctioned strength of Judges of the Supreme Court, 24 High Courts and numerous subordinate courts, ratio stands at 19.66 Judges per million (10 lakh) people. The ratio was 17.48 judges per million in 2014, according to Ministry figures put in public domain. According to some observers, 24 High Courts have a sanctioned strength of 1,079 judges, but with 395 vacancies they are functioning with 684 judges only. The sanctioned strength was 906 in June, 2014. However, while the sanctioned strength has gone up the working or the actual strength has not gone up comparatively. Therefore, this new aspect emerging out of increasing the number of judges shall have to be taken into account and taken care of. The output is as important as the providing of more manpower. Anyway this is very small improvement and the Government has to do justice to the institution of law if it want that justice should be meted out quickly and indiscriminately.