New Delhi: The Supreme Court has taken a serious view of the strike by Calcutta High Court lawyers in protest against court vacancies, including non-appointment of a regular Chief Justice, which has adversely impacted its functioning.
The High Court lawyers are on strike since February 18 as the High Court has only 33 Judges as against a sanctioned strength of 72.
“A strike is not an answer… strikes can’t be linked to that. Vacancies have to be filled up,” Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel told Attorney General K.K. Venugopal.
Justice Goel, sitting with Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman on the Bench on Thursday (April 19), took a serious note while dealing with a matter involving E. Meditek Insurance TPA Limited and National Insurance Company Limited.
The apex court sought the Attorney General’s assistance on the issue of lawyers strike, following which Venugopal said that he would address the court on the issue on Tuesday (April 24).
Venugopal suggested to the court that it can consider both the lawyers strike and non-filling of vacancies together.
He said that a Karnataka High Court Bar Association delegation had met him a few days back and submitted a memorandum to point out that there were 40 per cent vacancies of Judges and half the courtrooms were locked.
Telling the Attorney General about a High Court Judge who was considering resigning because he was not comfortable drawing a salary without doing work, Justice Goel said that the strike can’t be linked to High Courts’ vacancies.
“If we combine the two it would provide an alibi for strike,” the bench told the law officer.
Justice Goel said that there are vacancies in the High Courts as there were not enough suitable candidates and that unsuitable candidates can’t be recommended.
As against a sanctioned strength of 31 Judges, the top court at present has 24 Judges only.
The top court’s collegium’s recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K.M. Joseph and senior counsel Indu Malhotra to the Supreme Court is pending with the government for over three months.
E Meditek TPA Insurance Limited’s lawyer said that they had moved the High Court to challenge termination of a contract by the National Insurance Company Limited. Meditek wanted an early listing so that it could press for a stay on the contract’s termination, but the High Court listed it for April 6.
Meditek subsequently moved the top court which granted the stay on April 3. Seeking vacation of the April 3 stay, the National Insurance Company Limited moved an application which was taken up on April 19.