Stunned at the large number of pending criminal appeals before the High Courts, the Supreme Court on Wednesday lambasted the Centre as well as the States for not having appointed ad-hoc judges.
The observations were made after a Bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra enlarged on bail one Ratan Singh, whose appeal, the Court noted, is pending before the Madhya Pradesh High Court, and is likely to take time to be disposed of.
It then lamented the huge pendency of criminal appeals, calling it a “dismal state of affairs”, and observing, “Criminal Appeals apparently of the year 2001 and 2002 alone are being taken up for hearing in the State of Madhya Pradesh. Citizens of India have to face enormous hardship – many persons are languishing in jails. We are not at all happy with the stand taken by either the Union of India or the State of Madhya Pradesh.”
The Court went on to censure both, the Centre and the States, recalling the resolution adopted by former Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur along with the then Chief Justices of various High Courts to appoint ad-hoc judges. Seeking to know the steps taken on this resolution, it directed,
“We wish to know what steps have been taken in this regard by the Union of India as well as all the other States. Issue notice to all the other States.
It cannot be gainsaid that it is extremely important that criminal appeals that are pending in the High Courts all over the country be disposed of at once without further delay.”
The Court further directed the Centre as well as the States to provide it with an action plan within eight weeks elaborating on the creation of necessary infrastructure for appointment and functioning of ad-hoc judges.
The matter will next be heard on 18 September.