The ongoing “cease work” by advocates of the Calcutta High Court over shortage of judges was extended till April 19 on Tuesday.
The decision was taken by the three main bar associations of Kolkata at a review meeting. On April 19, a second review meeting will take place. As many as 5,000 lawyers are involved in the shutdown — which has been going on for a month and a half — demanding that vacancies for judges be immediately addressed. As of today, 2,50,000 cases are pending in the Calcutta High Court.
“We have decided to extend our cease work because none of our demands have been met. There were three appointments of judges earlier this month taking the number to 33, but three others will retire by the end of the year. Calcutta HC is functioning at 45 per cent strength. There are some names which have been cleared by the Centre. They should at least release these names and make the appointments immediately,’’ said Bar Association president Uttam Kumar Majumdar.
“We had two other demands. First, that we should have a permanent Chief Justice. Calcutta High Court has not had a permanent Chief Justice in two and a half years. In the middle, Girish Gupta was made permanent — for 19 days. We have had only acting Chief Justices. According to an SC order, no high court can have an acting Chief Justice for longer than a month. We have had acting Chief Justices for 3-4 months. Why can’t the ministry just make the acting Chief Justice permanent?” asked Majumdar.
The lawyers’ third demand is that judges from Calcutta HC be appointed in Supreme Court. “Traditionally, there has always been at least 3-4 judges in the Supreme Court who are from Calcutta High Court. The last two judges were Ashok Ganguly, and when he retired, Pinaki Ghosh. After Ghosh’s retirement, there has been no elevation of a Calcutta High Court judge to the Supreme Court. Why so?” asked Majumdar.