Adhoc Judges can be appointed only after regular vacancies are filled: Centre to SC

On Thursday, Centre told the Supreme Court that the appointment of additional judges on ad hoc basis in High Courts under Article 224a of the Constitution could only be made after regular vacancies of judges are filled up.

The Bench had earlier sought the Centre’s views on appointing ad hoc judges to the High Court to tackle the load of rising cases. In this context, Learned ASG submitted that the Centre’s stand was not adversarial and went on to state that the case’s pendency was a menace.

However, the Court didn’t agree with the stand of the ASG.

Hon’ble Justice Kaul observed that if all vacancies are filled up, there will be no problem, and ad hoc judges should work till existing vacancies are filled up. The Bench also touched upon the topic of increasing the age of HC judges as well.

The CJI questioned if there is anything under Article 224A to suggest that ad hoc judges’ appointment can be after regular vacancies are filled. The Bench went on to remark that filling up vacancies has never happened in the country.

The ASG replied that if vacancies are filled up, then there is no need to appoint ad hoc judges, or there will be no incentive to appoint regular judges.

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However, Justice Kaul stated that ad hoc should be appointed to the High Court to deal with cases when there are not enough judges.

When the ASG started to explain the process for appointment, CJI Bobde stated that they should file their submission by way of affidavit.

These observations were made when the Bench was hearing a PIL by NGO Lok Prahari sought invocation of Article 224A of Constitution for using former High Court judges to take care of pending cases.

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