Kolkata: Calcutta High Court has the second highest vacancy of judges among all high courts in the country after Allahabad High Court.
In a written reply to TMC MP and senior lawyer Kalyan Banerjee, Union law minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020, the Supreme Court collegium had made seven recommendations for Calcutta High Court judges of which only two were appointed, including the former additional solicitor general. The Union minister also said that as on August 1, 41 posts of judges were vacant in Calcutta High Court.
Rijiju’s response to Banerjee says that of the 71 position of judges sanctioned for Calcutta High Court, only 31 judges “are in position”. According to the vacancy positions in high courts released by the Union minister for law and justice, only Allahabad High Court has more vacancies than Calcutta High Court. However, Allahabad High Court has a sanctioned strength of 160 judges and a vacancy of 66 judges. Even Bombay High Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 94 judges, has a vacancy list of 31 judges. Among the vacancies in Calcutta High Court, 25 are for permanent judges and 16 for additional judges.
To Banerjee’s question on when these vacancies will be filed up, Rijiju did not commit any timeframe but said: “Filling up for vacancies in the high courts is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process between the executive and judiciary. It requires consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities both at the state and central level.” The Union law minister also said that while attempts to fill up the posts were being made “expeditiously”, these vacancies also keep arising due to “retirement, resignation, or elevation of judges and due to increase in the strength of judges”.
While one Calcutta High Court judge is set to retire this year, the next retirements are in 2023. In April 2020, five judges of Calcutta High Court were transferred. Three among them took charge as the chief justices of Bombay, Madras and Meghalaya high courts. Calcutta High Court now has two additional judges.