The webinar saw Advocate Sumit Nagpal pose questions on pertinent topics including judicial delays, case pendency, judicial vacancies and the working of virtual courts.
Raghavender pointed out that the Central Government does not come into the picture at all in the appointment of district and subordinate judges. The Central Government is only involved in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary, and that too after the Collegium has decided on proposals. The Government is working with the Collegium to fill judicial vacancies at this level, he added.
As for subordinate courts, he pointed out, “All higher judicial officials in district is appointed by High Court. The subordinate judicial officers, 50% is appointed by High Court and 50% by the State Public Services Commission. So again there is no role (for the Central Government).”
In this backdrop, he went on to add in the scenario of vacancies , “So why is delay (in making judicial appointments) happening? Delay is happening because of High Courts and State Governments, not because of Central Government.”
He noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also spoken on the issue, remarking that the burden is not only on the judiciary for vacancies but also on the Government since about 40% of the pending litigation pending is government litigation.
To ensure that delays in Government litigation are minimised, Raghavender also informed that there are nodal officers monitoring the same through an online portal i.e. the Legal Information Management & Briefing System.
As for case pendency figures, it was noted that about 69,000 cases lay pending before the Supreme Court, about 45 lakh cases before 25 High Courts and over 3 crore cases were before over 3,000 district and subordinate court complexes.
Raghavender informed that the Union Law Minister, RS Prasad, is keen to introduce the All India Judicial Service Exam for the appointment of judges, provided that there is an agreement for the same from the side of the judiciary.
Raghavender opined that the its implementation remains in limbo owing to a lack of political will. Another problem is rooted in members of the judiciary itself being opposed to the idea. Raghavendra remarked,
“The Law Minister has been saying that the Government is keen to introduce this, provided that there is a consensus among the judiciary. Various High Courts have not agreed to this. Few have agreed, few have said some changes are needed about the policy and few said no – you can’t do this, you can’t take away the role of High Court over appointment of judges …”
Another topic discussed was the live streaming of cases. He noted that the Calcutta and Telangana High Courts had already started live streaming in some cases. While the NIC has been tasked to develop the technology to implement the same, it is up to the Supreme Court to decide when to implement it for cases before it, Raghavender said. He added that live-streaming of cases has many advantages, including crowd control in court halls.
On a concluding note, he opined that costs should be imposed on those taking unnecessary adjournments in cases beyond a certain limit.