Calcutta High Court set for 6 New Judges

Team SoOLEGAL 15 Sep 2017 10:19am

Calcutta High Court set for 6 New Judges

Calcutta High Court: The Centre has approved six of the seven names recommended by the Supreme Court collegium as judges of the Calcutta high court, pro formas were sent to them, said sources.

All Six Judges are:

 Rajshekhar Mantha,

Sabyashachi Bhattacharyya,

Pratik Prakash Banerjee,

Mousumi Bhattacharyya,

Rajjoshri Bharadaj,

Shekhar B Saraf

These are practising advocates and have been recommended for elevation from the Bar.

"The pro forma is a technicality which precedes the President of India issuing a formal warrant of appointment. It can be clearly said their formal appointment as judges remains only a technicality now," said former state advocate-general and senior lawyer Jayanta Mitra. "It is only a matter of time for the six to take over as judges in the Calcutta HC," agreed senior lawyer Milon Mukherjee.

Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre is set to retire on September 19 and Justice Rajiv Sharma five days later, on September 25. This is likely to bring down the total number of judges in the HC to 29 from the present 31.

The maximum number of judges the Calcutta HC had, in its 150-plus years of existence, was 50 on October 30, 2013. In between that date and October 22, 2014, when the last set of appointments was made, 12 judges retired and one Chief Justice was elevated to the Supreme Court. Thus, the functional strength came down to 37 within a year's time. The situation has never looked up since. The Calcutta high court has an approved strength of 72 judges - 54 permanent and 18 additional judges.

The HC has been repeatedly flagging this issue including an unprecedented judicial order to the Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on July 12. The order by Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Debi Prosad Dey said: "It is made clear that continued silence of the central government in the matter of appointment of judges in the near future, despite the concerns expressed in this order, would certainly be viewed seriously as interference in the course of administration of justice and followed by appropriate action as authorized in law." The Centre, however, chose to remain silent over it till now. Three weeks later, on August 5, ACJ Nishita Mhatre also expressed her anguish on the issue. A few days ago, Justice Sanjeev Banerjee also spoke out on the issue.

Now, the judges are taking additional workload. For example, judges with over a decade of experience are now presiding over single benches and others are taking up cases beyond the usual ones assigned to them. But as the July 12 order pointed out, "Time management has now become key to adjudication of cases."

The effect is telling on the sitting judges. According to the July data released by the HC, among the 33 judges, 5,755 cases were disposed of. In the same month, however, 6103 new cases were filed in the Calcutta HC. On July 31, the HC had 22,2274 pending cases. Only two HCs, among the 24 in the country, have shown less case disposal numbers for July. The Delhi HC had disposed of 4,164 cases the same month; Karnataka HC disposed of 4,821 cases.

Tagged: Calcutta High Court   Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre   Calcutta HC     
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