New Delhi: The union law ministry said that the country’s judge-population ratio has gone up marginally in the past three years against the backdrop of increased sanctioned strength.
The judge-population ratio was 19.66 judges per million people as per the Census 2011 data. However, the ratio had come down to 17.48 judges per million in 2014. But since then the strength of judges and judicial officers has increased marginally, as it is evident from the union law ministry data available in the official website.
There are now 25 judges in the supreme court as against the sanctioned strength of 31. The sanctioned strength of 24 high courts has gone up to 1079 in 2017 from 906 in June 2014. While the sanctioned strength has gone up, the working or actual strength has not gone up considerably. The courts are functioning with 684 judges with 395 posts are laying vacant.
However, the sanctioned strength and judges in position strength in lower courts has gone up since 2014. The sanctioned strength of the lower courts was 20,214 judicial officers/ judges. In 2017, it rose to 22,677 . The working strength has also gone up from 15634 in 2014 to 16,693 in 2017. At the end of 2017, the subordinate courts had 5,984 vacancies.
It was in April, 2016 the low judge-population ratio was flagged off when the then chief justice of India TS Thakur raised the issue before the prime minister Narendra Modi while addressing the inaugural session of a joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts at New Delhi.
Thakur in a chocked voice had said “… 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.”