Government can’t afford to deny fundamental rights: Apex court CJ

Cuttack: Supreme Court Chief Justice T.S. Thakur on Sunday once again raised the issue of shortage of judges and said the government cannot afford to deny the people their fundamental rights, which included access to justice.

He said the shortage of judges was one of the formidable challenges the Indian judiciary was facing at present.

“Access to justice is a fundamental right and the government cannot afford to deny the people their fundamental rights,” Thakur said after inaugurating the centenary celebrations of Orissa High Court circuit bench here.

He said that while the Law Commission of India in 1987 suggested for 44,000 judges to deal with cases pending at that point of time, the country at present had only 18,000 judges.

“Thirty years down the line, we continue to work with a depleted strength. If you go by the number of people added to the (Indian) population, we may now require more than 70,000 judges to clear the pending cases,” he said.

Supreme Court Justice Dipak Mishra, Orissa High Court Chief Justice Vineet Saran, and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik were among those present at the event.

The chief minister said the state government had taken up with the Centre the issue of filling up vacant posts of judges in the high court.

“The government has rendered all assistance and financial support for infrastructural development of the courts in the state. We have established 30 judicial magistrate first class courts for ensuring speedy trials of crime against women in Odisha,” Patnaik said.

He said another 26 additional judicial magistrates’ courts were set up in remote and topographically challenging areas of the state.

“Odisha has established rural courts to cater to the population living there. A modern court complex of the high court has been constructed and an Odisha Judicial Academy set up for capacity building of judicial officers,” Patnaik added.