Former SC judge Hedge favours one-on-one meeting of CJI, PM to sort out issue of shortage of judges

Hyderabad: Former Supreme Court Judge N Santosh Hegde has favoured a one-to-one meeting between Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of filling up of vacancies in higher judiciary. “I am sure he (the CJI) feels the pinch of shortage of judges in superior courts. Rather than making it (expressing disappointment) on Independence day, it would have been appropriate if he sat across with the Prime Minister one-to-one and decided (on the issue of judicial appointments),” he said.

Hegde, the former Solicitor General of India and ex-Karnataka Lokayukta, was referring to the CJI expressing disappointment that the Prime Minister did not make any mention about appointment of judges in his Independence Day address. “These are the problems you can solve by sitting across the table. I do understand his (CJI’s) problems that 50% of vacancies (in High Courts) are not filled up. Then, you (some people) at the same time blame judicial institutions to large delays (pendency of cases),” he said.

“How does the one who heads the judiciary must feel? I do feel his sentiments and emotions are genuine because of shortage of judges but there are ways and means of bringing it out. There has been a line of confrontation recently between the government and judiciary. You sit across the table and talk about it,” Hegde said.

“I do support the CJI on this issue since grievances are genuine, and the nation is suffering because of large delays,” he said. Amid the continuing standoff between the judiciary and the government, Justice Thakur had on August 15 expressed his disappointment that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not make any mention about appointment of judges in his address.

The comments came close on the heels of a stern message by a Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice to the Centre over non-execution of the collegium’s decision to transfer and appoint Chief Justices and judges in High Courts. Justice Thakur had said that today the workload of courts had increased manifold, making it difficult to deliver speedy justice.