President Ram Nath Kovind has given the nod to a Bill seeking an increase in the number of Supreme Court judges. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament earlier this week
New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind has signed into law a Bill which seeks to increase the sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court from 30 to 33 besides the Chief Justice of India. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament earlier this week.
With no vacancy, the present strength of the top court is 31, including the Chief Justice of India. After the law comes into force, the sanctioned strength of Supreme Court will be 33, besides the CJI.
The move to increase the strength of judges by three or 10% comes against the backdrop of rising cases in the top court which stand at nearly 60,000.
The decision also comes days after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to increase the number of judges in the top court.
According to a written reply by the law ministry to a Rajya Sabha question on July 11, as many as 59,331 cases are pending in the top court.
Due to paucity of judges, the required number of constitution benches to decide important cases involving questions of law were not being formed, the CJI said.
"You would recall that way back in 1988, about three decades ago, the judge strength of the SC was increased from 18 to 26, and then again after two decades in 2009, it was increased to 31, including the CJI, to expedite disposal of cases to keep pace with the rate of institution," he wrote.
The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 was last amended in 2009 to increase the judges strength from 25 to 30 (excluding the CJI). The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 originally provided for a maximum of 10 judges (excluding the CJI).
This number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1960, and to 17 in 1977.
The working strength of the Supreme Court was, however, restricted to 15 judges by the cabinet (excluding the Chief Justice of India) till the end of 1979. But the restriction was withdrawn at the request of the chief justice of India.
In 1986, the strength of the top court was increased to 25, excluding the CJI. Subsequently, the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2009 further augmented the strength of the court from 25 to 30.
Once the amended law comes into force, the Supreme Court collegium will recommend three names to the government for appointment as SC judges, a government functionary said.
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Last Updated Aug 11, 2019, 2:37 PM IST