President approves Increasing Strength of Supreme Court Judges

President Ramnath Kovind has approved the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 which seeks to increase the number of judges in the top court from the present 31 to 34 (including chief justice).

Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act

The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 amends the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956. Once the bill gets the nod of parliament the number of judges in Supreme Court would go up to 34.

Need to increase the number of Judges in the Supreme Court

In the month of July 2019, the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to increase the number of judges in the top court. The following reasons warranted for the increase in the number of judges:

  • As per the reports of the government about 59,331 cases are pending in the top court.
  • The required number of Constitution Benches to decide important cases involving questions of law was not being formed due to the paucity of judges.
  • It was a decade ago in 2009 the judge strength of the SC was increased from 26 to 31. The work before the Supreme Court both in terms of complexity and quantity has increased since then.

Number of Judges in Supreme Court

Originally the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 provided for a maximum of 10 judges (excluding the CJI). This number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1960, and to 17 in 1977.

The strength of the judges was increased to 25 in 1986 excluding the CJI. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2009 further augmented the strength of the court from 25 to 30.

The CJI in his letter to the Prime Minister had urged to augment the judge-strength in the SC appropriately so that it can function more efficiently and effectively as it will go a long way to attain the ultimate goal of rendering timely justice to the litigant public.

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