Paucity of judges ails Calcutta HC

Strength to fall to 29 against sanctioned 72

Updated - February 05, 2018 01:19 am IST

Published - February 04, 2018 09:40 pm IST - Kolkata

KOLKATA, 30/08/2011: A view of the Calcutta High Court.
Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

KOLKATA, 30/08/2011: A view of the Calcutta High Court. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Courts and tribunals in West Bengal are experiencing a severe paucity of judges. Whether it is the Calcutta High Court or the State Tribunals, the situation is equally grim. Calcutta High Court, the oldest in the country, may soon function with only 29 judges against a sanctioned strength of 72.

The severity of the crisis becomes evident as, out of the 33 judges, three will retire by February-end while one will be elevated to the post of Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya will be transferred to the Delhi High Court to replace acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal. The number of functioning judges at the Calcutta High Court will be reduced further as two of the sitting judges have to preside over the Circuit Bench in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at regular intervals.

Former Supreme Court judges said that there was an urgent need for the Centre to address the crisis. “Unless there is an adequate number of judges, speedy justice will remain a distant dream for this country,” said former CJI T.S. Thakur, speaking to The Hindu. He also said that the Centre needed to be “more sensitive” to the problem.

‘Serious repercussions’

Former Supreme Court judge Justice B.N. Srikrishna described the situation at the Calcutta HC as a “matter of serious concern” with “serious repercussions”. .

The condition of the West Bengal Land Tribunal is even worse. The Tribunal, which has a sanctioned strength of eight members, currently has only two members. Out of the eight members, four are judicial members and others are administrative members.

The Chairman of the Tribunal has to be a retired HC judge or a person who has held the post of a judicial member of the Tribunal for not less than a year. As for other judicial members, they should have the same qualifications to be a HC judge.

“Currently, at least 15,000 cases are pending before the Tribunal,” said Biswapriya Roy, secretary of the Tribunal’s Bar Association.

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