After the appointment of nine judges was ordered, the number of vacancies in the Supreme Court is now only one. But filling the vacancies in the High Court still remains a challenge for the Supreme Court. The number of vacancies of judges in high courts is 455, which is about 45 per cent of the total strength. The number of vacancies has remained almost the same since last one year.
There are 66 vacancies in the country’s largest High Court Allahabad as on 1st August 2021. The authorized strength of judges here is 160. It is followed by Calcutta (total 72) with 41 vacancies. There are 39 vacant posts of judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. There are 34 vacancies in Patna High Court, 30 in Delhi High Court, 31 in Bombay High Court and 25 in Rajasthan High Court. Apart from this, 10 posts of judges are vacant in Jharkhand High Court and 4 in Uttarakhand High Court. Highest number of vacancies are in Calcutta and Telangana High Courts, where the authorized strength of judges are 72 and 42 respectively but the vacancies of judges are 41 and 30.
No vacancy in three High Courts:
There is no vacancy in Sikkim, Meghalaya and Manipur High Court and it is working with full capacity. Although the number of judges in these High Courts ranges from 3 to 4 judges, so there are no vacancies. There are many proposals pending with the Central Government for the appointment of judges in the High Court. But it is also a fact that the proportion of proposals coming from the High Court Collegium is not according to the vacancies. Appointments to the High Court are made by the collegium of the three senior most judges in the Supreme Court.
57 lakh litigation pending:
Significantly, there are about 57 lakh cases pending in 25 High Courts of the country, according to the National Judicial Data Grid, about 54 percent of these pending cases are in only five High Courts-Allahabad, Punjab Haryana, Bombay, Madras and Rajasthan High Courts. The hearing of criminal appeals in these High Courts is taking many years. In view of this situation, the Supreme Court had proposed to appoint former judges as ad-hoc judges in the High Court for two years. But in the light of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for the appointment of judges, the central government did not approve it.