SC might lay down guidelines for appointment of Adhoc Judges under Article 224A

On Thursday, the Supreme Court stated that it intended to lay down guidelines for appointing Adhoc judges in the High Court under Article 224A of the Constitution to sort out the problem of pending and new cases.

The Bench asked Senior Counsels from various High Courts to give their suggestions regarding the appointment process.

The Bench discussed the following points:-

  • What should the triggers activate the judge’s appointment as per Article 224A, and what are the pendency level when the process should start?
  • Whether pendency should be determined generally or pointwise?
  • What are the criteria that should determine the number of ad-hoc judges and their tenure?
  • Whether the process should be the same for ad hoc judges and regular judges of the High Court?
  • What will be the allowances for the appointment of judges under Article 224A?

During the hearing, CJI Bobde stated that the Court wants to lay down the circumstances under which ad hoc judges’ appointment should be made.

Hon’ble Justice SK Kaul, who was also part of the Bench, stated that ad hoc judges would only hear pending cases and no new cases. The CJI also told various Senior Counsels from different High Courts that their assistance would be needed to lay down the principles.

The Bench asked Senior Counsel Arvind Datar to convene a virtual meeting with other Senior Counsels regarding the issue and submit their report by Wednesday.

Senior Advocate R Basant suggested that the benchmark for using Article 224A should be the number of vacancies and not pendencies.

However, the CJI Bobde stated that pendencies should be the criteria and not the vacancy.

During the hearing, the appointment under Article 224A also cropped up, and Senior Advocate Basant stated that the term ad hoc judges should not be used as Article 224A envisages additional or acting judges’ appointment.

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Regarding the allowance for ad hoc judges, there was a difference of opinions; At the same time, the CJI suggested that it should be determined on a case by case basis; some lawyers suggested that it should be uniform across courts.

The next hearing of the case will be on 15.04.2021, and the lawyers have to submit their suggestions by Wednesday.

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