CJI Thakur blasts at Centre over empty courtrooms; Law Minister retaliates
New Delhi: Condemning the Centre for not providing adequate facilities to the judiciary, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur on Saturday said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has ignored every issue of the judiciary from filling vacancies to providing proper infrastructure.
Disclosing that there are vacancies for 500 judges in High Courts, Thakur claimed that the courtrooms are lying vacant without judges. He also clarified that in principle, the judiciary wasn’t against the formation of Tribunals as they would help in reducing court's duties, but the problem is that the government hasn’t provided adequate infrastructure to the Tribunals.
"Tribunals are not properly equipped thus being empty. Today, no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I feel pained to send my retired colleagues there. Government isn't ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal," Thakur said.
Retaliating to CJI’s claims, central Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the court could give directions but running a country should be left to those who had been chosen by the people. He stressed that the problems could be rectified if everyone knew his work properly.
Prasad also praised Indian constitution saying that the world respects our constitution as it doesn’t see rich and poor differently. He also clarified that the government had appointed 120 judges in 2016 which is maximum after 2013 when 121 judged were appointed.
Taking advantage of CJI's statement, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed that Thakur's concerns weren't personal as he was speaking as the head of an institution. He further added that the judiciary had become helpless because despite having vast powers, the actualisation of those powers and directives depended on the executive government.
The relations between the Centre and the apex court have hit a roadblock since the Supreme Court turned down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, which was introduced to put a stop to more than 20-year-old practice of judges appointing judges under the collegium system, with government having no role to play in the entire process.
On October 28, the top court had lambasted the NDA government for consistently failing to appoint judges in a several High Courts despite the collegium approving a few of the names more than nine months back. An extremely angry Thakur had told Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, "You can as well close down the courts. Close down justice."
Earlier in April, speaking at a conference joined by Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts, an emotional Justice Thakur had requested the Modi government to help the judiciary in upgrading the judicial infrastructure and start addressing the glaring problem of shortage of judges.