New Delhi: Chief Justice of India TS Thakur broke down at a meeting in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, talking about the unprecedented pressure judges in the country work under.
Pointing to the terrible discrepancy between the population and the number of judges required to cater to them, the Chief Justice said the government should raise the number of judges from the current 21,000 to 40,000.
At the meeting between Chief Ministers and Chief Justices, Chief Justice Thakur said, "It is for development of this country, that I beseech you to rise the occasion... You cannot shift the entire burden to the judiciary... There is a limit to judges' capacity."
The Prime Minister, who was not expected to speak at that point, assured the judiciary that his government was serious about addressing the issues. "If a closed door and close team norms allow, I will definitely try to find a way out," he said.
An average Indian judge handles 2,600 cases in a year, compared to just 81 in the US, Chief Justice Thakur pointed out. The lower courts handle 2 crore cases a year - the discrepancy never fails to shock judges visiting from abroad, he said.
Justice Thakur said that since 1987, when the Law Commission had recommended increase in the number of judges from then 10 per 10 lakh people to 50, "nothing has moved". "Speeches have been made but nothing really moves... The Centre says, 'yes, it's the state which has to take the initiative' and this tug of war continues," he said.
The Chief Justice also went on to criticise PM Modi's project of setting up commercial courts for top corporate clients. The system, he said, can't work if the government was planning to draw from the existing infrastructure. "Simply putting old wine in a new bottle will not work," he added.
He said for all the things the Prime Minister wants -- FDI, Make in India etc -- "it is important to have more judges and showcase India".