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Additional Judges yet to be made permanent

By A. Subramani

CHENNAI, MARCH 31. Eight Additional Judges of the Madras High Court, who are completing their two-year Additional Judgeship term on April 3, are yet to get the Presidential Warrant of Appointment as permanent judges.

Sources told The Hindu that the Supreme Court had informed them that their tenure as Additional Judges had been extended by four more months. Consequently, the High Court is awaiting a warrant extending their Additional Judgeship, and not an appointment to the permanent vacancies.

Whether it is a warrant for permanent vacancies or mere extension of probation, each of the eight Additional Judges needs to be sworn in at the end of the initial two years.

Extension

Assuming that the warrant for permanent vacancy would come a few months later, the eight Judges will be the first ones to be sworn in thrice during their tenure.

In September 2004, the then Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice B. Subhashan Reddy, had forwarded the list of eight Additional Judges to the Centre.

The Union Ministry of Law and Justice is said to have despatched the list to the Supreme Court in the second week of March.

Depleting strength

The sanctioned strength of Judges in the Madras High Court is 42, of which 32 are permanent vacancies and 10 are additional vacancies.

The available strength is only 25. The number is set to come down further as Justice N.V. Balasubramanian is scheduled to attain superannuation on April 7. Justice N. Dhinakar, the senior most judge of the Madras High Court as on date, is to be elevated as Chief Justice shortly.

In these circumstances, any delay in filling the permanent vacancies and the consequent delay in appointing new judges to the additional vacancies is the last thing the overburdened High Court wants.

Names recommended

Already, for the available 17-18 vacancies, more than 30 names, comprising subordinate judicial officers and advocates, have been recommended.

Unless the incumbent additional judges are made permanent, no new appointments are possible for the simple reason that only one additional post is vacant. [Justice N. Kannadasan occupies the ninth additional vacancy.]

With the Madurai Bench of the court requiring the presence of at least five Judges, there are not sufficient Judges to handle civil matters and second appeal matters in the principal seat of the Madras High Court.

Many Benches are burdened with cases belonging to different portfolios, delaying disposals.

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