The Union Law Ministry had prepared a document in March 2018, as per which India has 19 judges per 10 lakh people on an average.
The document reveals that while the subordinate courts have a shortage of 5748 judicial officers, the 24 high courts have a total of 406 vacancies.
• The law ministry data revealed that the judge-population ratio in India is 19.49 per million (10 lakh) people.
• The data is a part of a document that the Ministry had prepared for discussion in the Parliament.
• The data reveals that the judiciary faces a combined shortage of over 6,000 judges, including over 5,000 in the lower courts.
• The document states that the working strength of the lower judiciary is 16,726, while the approved strength is much higher at 22,474.
• In the case of high courts, while the approved strength is 1079, the actual strength is 673.
• On the other hand, in the case of the Supreme Court that has a sanctioned strength of 31 judges, there are a total of six vacancies.
• Overall, the data reveals that the total number of vacancies in the SC, HCs and the lower courts come to around 6160 judges.
• The debate on the ratio of judges in comparison to the population of the nation was re-ignited in April 2016 by the then Chief Justice of India T S Thakur.
• He had said "nothing has moved" since 1987 when the Law Commission had recommended an increase in the number of judges from 10 judges per 10 lakh people to 50.
• The government had then pointed out that in the 245th report, the Law Commission had observed that filing of cases per capita varies substantially across geographic units as filings are associated with economic and social conditions of the population.
• In fact, recently in August 2018, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad urged the chief justices of 24 high courts to speed up recruitment of judicial officers for the lower judiciary, as according to him one of the main reasons for high pendency was the inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies of judicial officers.
• The Minister urged the chief justices to hold timely examination and interviews to recruit judges for lower courts.
• The Minister in his letter pointed out that there were a total of 2,76, 74,499 cases pending in the district and subordinate courts of the country.
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