On 5th October, two days after taking over as the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice Ranjan Gogoi spoke with chief justices and senior judges of the high courts via a video conference, asking them to focus on getting work done, and on the need to combat corruption in the judiciary, according to two people familiar with the conversation who asked not to be identified.
Backlog of Cases
He categorically emphasised that the backlog of cases was something that bothered him and this was evident from the importance he assigned to it in a speech on 29th September to young lawyers as well. Speaking days before taking over as the chief justice, he said pendency brings “disrepute to the system”.
According to the National Judicial Data Grid, there are 4.3 million cases pending in 42 high courts. Also, as per the number posted on an official website, there are as many as 55,946 cases pending in the Supreme Court, according to its official website.
During the video conference chaired by Gogoi, a sitting chief justice of a high court spoke of a 10-point plan.
“Justice Gogoi impressed on all the chief justices that judges in the high courts should not take leave during working days and also must be present in courtrooms all through the working hours,” said one of the attendees present during the video conference.
The chief justice also attacked the issue of corruption in the higher judiciary. He reportedly told the high court chief justices,
“Do not hesitate in withdrawing judicial work from judges who are under a cloud”, reported Hindustan Times
Chief Justice Gogoi also stressed the need to appoint advocates with good incomes as judges which will thereby prevent them from being tempted by money.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court collegium headed by justice Gogoi rejected the elevation of an advocate as judge of the Kerala high court.
The grounds for rejection quoted,
“His average net professional annual income for the preceding five years is less than the prescribed income limit applicable in case of bar members.”
Vacancies at Lower Court
During the conversation, Justice Gogoi also stressed the importance of filling vacancies in the lower judiciary so that cases do not clog the system.
Criminal Case Appeals
The CJI has already ushered in administrative changes in the SC for quick disposal of criminal appeals that are awaiting final disposal in the court for more than a decade.
On two days of the week, Wednesday and Thursday, criminal appeals will be heard by at least five benches. The first 10 matters in these courts will be criminal appeals where the petitioners are languishing in jail. In the past, only those benches having the criminal appeal roster could hear such cases.
Once the court reopens after the Dussehra break, CJI Gogoi intends to extend the practice to even civil appeals as well.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi took charge as the 46th Chief Justice of India (CJI) on 3rd October. Gogoi, is the first person from the Northeast to hold India’s highest judicial office. Hailing from Dibrugarh, Assam, the 63-year-old is the son of former Assam chief minister Keshab Chandra Gogoi. His elder brother is retired Air Marshal Anjan Gogoi.
He had led the Supreme Court bench that had agreed to hear the Central Bureau of Investigation’s appeal against the Allahabad High Court’s acquittal of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the Aarushi murder case, one of India’s most sensational cases. Last year, he was a part of the bench that took the unprecedented action of jailing a sitting High Court judge, CS Karnan, for contempt.
However, the public fondly acknowledges him for his part in the near revolt against former CJI Dipak Misra. Gogoi had made headlines for participating in the controversial and unprecedented press conference held by four (including himself) of the top court’s senior-most judges accusing Misra of selective case allocation. He later remarked at a public function that “independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy’s first line of defence”, adding that a “revolution, not reform” was needed to keep the institution of judiciary serviceable for the common man.
With inputs from HT