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9th December 2022 (8 Topics)

Process to appoint ad hoc judges must be less cumbersome: SC

Context

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) suggested a less cumbersome process to appoint ad hoc judges in High courts and also mentioned including retired senior lawyers to act as ‘ad hoc judges’ in High Courts, to address the rising pendency of cases.

Who are ad hoc Judges of High Court?

  • A judge ad hoc is a judge appointed by a special procedure for a specific case, or period only.
  • Ad-hoc judges should generally have tenure of 2-3 years.
  • Depending on the strength of the High Court and the problems it faces, they may appoint 2-5

Difference between ad hoc judges and acting judges:

  • In case of absence of main judge, additional judge can act at the place of main judge.
  • But ad hoc judge is temporary; he acts only at certain occasion in the absence of main judge.

Need to appoint ad hoc judges:

  • Faster delivery of justice.
  • For reducing pendency of cases in High Courts.
  • As number of cases is far more in high court than in Supreme Court, hence to reduce the workload.
  • To use experience of the senior judges.

Constitutional Provisions:

The appointment of retired judges was provided for in the Constitution under Article 224A (appointment of retired judges at sittings of High Courts).

CJI gives recommendations for judges to be appointed on an ad hoc basis in High Courts.

Supreme Court suggestions for the position of ‘ad hoc’ judges:

  • Guidelines for Appointment of an Ad-hoc Judge:The court orally outlined prospective guidelines for the appointment and functioning of an ad-hoc judge.
  • Pendency beyond a Certain Limit:If in a particular jurisdiction, the pendency goes beyond a certain limit, say eight or 10 years, the Chief Justice may appoint a certain [retired] judge with expertise in those fields of laws as an ad hoc judge.
    • Theterm of such a judge could be extendable.
  • Position:The appointment of ad-hoc judges would not be a threat to the services of other judges as the Ad-hoc judges will be treated as the junior most.
  • Selection:The retired judges would be chosen on the basis of their expertise in a particular field of dispute and allowed to retire once the pendency in that zone of law was over

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