In Karnataka High Court, case backlog swells, but bench contracts: 3 April 2014

Bangalore: “The collegium system itself has not functioned in the past three years. Moreover it is a secret selection process. So how do you expect things to be done?”he asks.
Another advocate, CR Narayanaswamy, observed that no practising advocate has been elevated to the high court bench during the tenure of three chief justices, Justice Jagadish Khehar, Vikramajit Sen and the current incumbent, Justice DH Waghela. 
………………….  Bangalore: Here is a conundrum: The Karnataka High Court has a very large backlog of cases, around 13,000 pending for over five years, but the number of judges, who deal with the cases, keeps coming down.
With three more judges retiring from service this month, the high court will face a shortage of 17 judges to carry out the day-to-day proceedings. As of January 1, as many as 12,935 cases were pending in the high court for five years or more. The shortage of judges will only make matters worse.
At present, of the total sanctioned strength of 50 judges, the high court has only 36. With justices HS Kempanna, BS Indrakala and KN Keshavanarayana retiring on April 4, 7 and 10 respectively, the strength will be reduced to 33.
“And when everyday cases are piling up before the court, how do you expect speedy justice?” asks CR Gopalaswamy, chairman of the Karnataka State Bar Council. He told dna that the bar council, concerned at the situation, took the unusual step of organising a meeting of senior advocates on filling up the posts of judges in the high court. Expressing its disappointment over practising advocates not being appointed to the bench, the meeting passed a resolution urging the Chief Justice to take necessary action to fill up the posts.
Terming the situation “serious”, Gopalaswamy said that if the Union Government implements its decision to increase the bench strength to 62, the vacancies will increase to 29, making the objective of reducing the case backlog a distant dream.
Senior advocate AN Jayaram blames the strange state of affairs on the inadequacies of the collegium system through which judges are selected. Under this system, appointment and transfer of judges of high courts are decided by a forum comprising the Chief Justice of India and four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
The collegium system itself has not functioned in the past three years. Moreover it is a secret selection process. So how do you expect things to be done?”he asks.
Another advocate, CR Narayanaswamy, observed that no practising advocate has been elevated to the high court bench during the tenure of three chief justices, Justice Jagadish Khehar, Vikramajit Sen and the current incumbent, Justice DH Waghela. 
The last time a judge was appointed from the bar was four years ago during the tenure of Justice PD Dinakaran (August 2008-August 2010), says AP Ranganatha, general secretary of the Advocates’ Association, Bengaluru.
In October 2013, four judges from subordinate courts were elevated to the high court.
He said a delegation from the association met the Chief Justice and apprised him of the situation. He claimed that the Chief Justice had recommended a four-member list to the Supreme court, which was rejected.
Advocate General Prof Ravivarma Kumar places the entire blame on the collegium system and its “lack of transparency”. Asked about the proposed list being sent and rejected, his reply was: “I was neither informed about the list being sent nor it being rejected.” He said the recruitment process should start at least one year prior to the retirement of judges, to make things easier.
Asked about it, a very reluctant Registrar General, BA Patil, said that the registrar’s office had no say in the appointment of judges. “It is the Chief Justice of the high court who has the ultimate say in this matter,” Patil told dna.
State law minister TB Jayachandra said the government had no role in the appointment of judges. “It is a matter between the High Court and the Supreme Court. The government is ready to provide all the necessary infrastructure, if needed,” he said.
yamini.p@dnaindia.net

Published Date:  Apr 03, 2014 …. …. Yamini P @yaminip

http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epapermain.aspx?eddate=2014-04-03&edcode=860009

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