India has 20.52 Judges per 10 lakh people in the country, the Government has informed the Parliament. This calculation involves taking the population recorded in 2011 Census as the base, but Number of judges is calculated in the year 2019. In the year 2016, India was reported to have 16 judges per million. This means we have been able to improve our judges per million count slightly. Judges per million is a very valuable metric in deciding a number of aspects including ease of doing business and the general wellness in the society. Major developed countries have the judges per million count and upwards of 50. United States reportedly has 107 judges per million population, while the UK has 51. Even Australia and Canada do better, with 41 and 75 judges per million, respectively. 

In response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the Government had reportedly said, “Based on the population as per Census 2011 and as per available information regarding sanctioned strength of Judges in Supreme Court, High Courts and District & Subordinate Courts in the year 2019, the judge - population ratio in the country works out to be 20.52 Judges per million population. In the case of Imtiyaz Ahmed versus State of Uttar Pradesh and others, 2012, the Supreme Court had asked the Law Commission of India to evolve a method for scientific assessment of the number of additional courts required to clear the backlog of cases. In 245th report (2014), the Law Commission observed that filing of cases per capita varies substantially across geographic units as filings are associated with economic and social conditions of the population. As such the Law Commission did not consider the judge population ratio to be a scientific criterion for determining the adequacy of the judge strength in the country. The Law Commission found that in the absence of complete and scientific approach to data collection across various High Courts in the country, the “Rate of Disposal” method, to calculate the number of additional judges required to clear the backlog of cases as well as to ensure that new backlog is not created, is more pragmatic and useful. 

In August 2014, the Supreme Court asked the National Court Management System Committee (NCMS Committee) to examine the recommendations made by the Law Commission and to furnish its recommendations in this regard. NCMS Committee submitted its report to the Supreme Court in March, 2016. The report, inter-alia, observes that in the long term, the judge strength of the subordinate courts will have to be assessed by a scientific method to determine the total number of “Judicial Hours” required for disposing of the case load of each court. In the interim, the Committee has proposed a “weighted” disposal approach i.e. disposal weighted by the nature and complexity of cases in local conditions.”

Regarding the steps taken to increase the judges per million population number, the Government has stated the following- 

“The appointment of Judges and Judicial Officers in the District and Subordinate Courts falls within the domain of the High Courts and State Governments concerned in which the Central Government has no role.  However, in order to facilitate regular filling up of these vacancies in a smooth and time-bound manner, the Department of Justice vide its letter dated 28th April, 2017 suggested certain options to the Hon’ble Supreme Court for creation of a Central Selection Mechanism.  The Hon’ble Supreme Court suo motu converted the Government’s suggestions into a writ petition on 09th May, 2017 and directed all State Governments (including Union Territories) to file their responses and suggestions by way of affidavits.  The above matter is subjudice at present.”



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