New Delhi: A total of 164 high court proposals to appoint judges are at various stages of consideration between the government and the Supreme Court collegium, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Rajya Sabha Thursday.
In a written reply, he also said that 55 proposals have been either remitted or returned by the government to various high courts on the advice of the Supreme Court Collegium during the current year.
“The total number of high court collegium proposals which are at various stages of consideration between the government and the Supreme Court Collegium as on November 29, 2021 is 164. The number of proposals which have been remitted/returned by the government to the high courts on the advice of the Supreme Court Collegium is 55 during the current year,” he said.
The minister also said that in 2021, a total of nine judges have been appointed to Supreme Court and 118 in various high courts up to November 21, 2021.
Sources in the government noted that 126 HC judges were appointed in 2016 which is a record.
The minister said filling up of vacancies in the high courts is a “continuous, integrated and collaborative process” between the executive and the judiciary.
It requires consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities both at state and central level, he said.
“While every effort is made to fill up the existing vacancies expeditiously, vacancies of judges in high courts do keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of judges and also due to increase in the strength of judges” he said.
In respose to another question, the minister informed the House that a total of 4,36,55,362 cases are pending in courts, including the SC, HC and lower courts.
While 70,038 cases are pending in Supreme Court, 56,42,858 are pending in the various high courts. As many as 3,79,42,466 cases are pending with the lower judiciary.
While the SC has only one vacancy, the HCs are short of 406 judges. The sanctioned strength of the top court is 34, the combined sanctioned strength of 25 high courts is 1,098.
The subordinate judiciary is short of 5,191 judicial officers.