NUMBER OF JUDGES TO BE INCREASED AT ALL LEVELS: CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA

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The number of judges at all levels of judiciary will be increased to ensure speedy disposal of pending cases, Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan said.

Interacting with media persons and responding to their queries on the increasing incidents of corruption in the judiciary, the CJI said it was the job and duty of Parliament and the government to punish corrupt judges.

A sitting Supreme Court or High Court judge can only be removed through impeachment by both houses of Parliament and the CJI can only recommend action against a judge facing allegations of corruption.

Justice Balakrishnan said the procedure for appointment of judges would be further streamlined and efforts would be made to ensure appointment of better quality of judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

Union Law Minister H R Bhardwaj criticised the procedure of appointment of judges in higher judiciary by the Supreme Court collegium, comprising of the CJI and three senior-most judges of the apex court.

The recommendation of the CJI on the basis of consultation with the collegium is binding on the government.

Justice Balakrishnan has recently recommended the impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court for alleged misappropriation of Rs 32 lakh when he was a receiver in a dispute between the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and the Shipping Corporation of India.

Justice Sen had returned the money with interest but only after a court order.

Justice Balakrishnan has also permitted the CBI to interrogate two Punjab and Haryana High Court judges in connection with cash at judges door scam.

Another bench, headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, had recently ordered a CBI investigation in Rs seven crore Ghaziabad district court GPF scam, in which 36 judges, including one sitting Supreme Court judge, 11 Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Court judges and 24 district and sessions judges of Ghaziabad have been named as beneficiaries in the scam by the main accused Ashutosh Asthana.

Former CJI J S Verma, in an interview to English daily Mail Today, had blamed the government for not acting against a High Court judge whose impeachment he had recommended during his tenure as CJI in 1997-98.

Justice Verma had also said the CJI cannot do anything beyond recommending impeachment and it is for the executive to act.

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