A+| A| A-

Appointment of Judges to the Higher Judiciary during the Pandemic – I

As with most other activities, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the functioning of courts, revealed through the steep drop in the number of cases disposed of during the pandemic. However, there has not been much comment on the functioning of the collegium, which, theoretically, should not be compromised in these circumstances. The performance of the Supreme Court collegium during the pandemic is examined in this column by comparing it with available data for past years.

Even before the imposition of the nationwide lockdown on 25 March, the Supreme Court cut back on its functioning given the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic that had reached India’s shores by then (ToI 2020). Forced to shut down physical hearings and only hearing a limited number of cases through videoconferencing, the Court’s functioning was dramatically reduced as it sought to hear only “urgent matters.” While there was no clear definition of what constituted “urgent matters,” suffice it to say that these constituted only a small fraction of the cases usually heard by the Court.

An analysis of the Supreme Court’s caseload just for the month of April 2020 by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, when the lockdown was at its peak, showed that only 357 cases were heard in this month (Tripathy and Jain 2020: 17). In contrast, the number of cases heard in April 2019 was 14,381; even though, on paper, the Court worked for 14 days in April 2020, and 19 days in April 2019. The numbers have increased since the lockdown was lifted, but even as of August 2020, the Supreme Court still had not heard as many cases as it did in April 2019 alone.1

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 21st Sep, 2020

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

The impact of the appointment process for high court and Supreme Court judges following the recommendations of the collegium is examined. The...

By clearing the confusion over the interpretation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the Supreme Court in Vineeta Sharma v Rakesh...

National law universities set up by state governments have remained “islands” for too long–elitist and distanced from the local communities in...

India’s management of the COVID-19 global pandemic has been marked by excessive centralisation, lawless lawmaking and non-consultative decision-...

The Supreme Court’s setting aside of the Andhra Pradesh government’s preference scheme for Scheduled Tribes in schools in Scheduled Areas shows up...

The debate about the tenure of judges of the Supreme Court of India is fixated somewhat unnecessarily on the retirement age than the actual time...

The proposal in the Finance Bill, 2020 to introduce taxation on the basis of citizenship for those non-resident Indians who do not pay tax in...

Between 2010 and 2019, the Supreme Court of India has suffered a credibility crisis not seen since the 1970s, with its reputation for independence...

Back to Top