The Empty Court : A Quantitative Analysis of Vacancies in the Supreme Court of India

Average Number of Vacancies in the SCI from 1950 till 2020


Judges in the Supreme Court of India are appointed through a unique self-appointment mechanism known as the “collegium system”. The collegium system has inter alia been criticised for being non-transparent and for enabling a non-accountable judiciary. This paper, using appointment and retirement data of the Supreme Court from 1950 till 2020 shows that there have been, on average, more vacancies in the SCI since 2015 than any other comparable period in recent history. It also shows, using published minutes of collegium meetings and department of justice appointment orders, that the appointment process is partly to blame for the delay in filling judicial vacancies. Based on this, this paper focuses on a different critique of the collegium system— that it leads to a delay in judicial appointments which in the light of the increasing pendency docket, results in a reduction in access to speedy justice.

Delhi Law Review
Rahul Hemrajani
Rahul Hemrajani
Assistant Professor

My research centers around the empirical analysis and evaluation of judicial institutions. My research interests also include legal education in India, the conflict between legal and religious obligations as well as the interpretation of procedural rights in the Indian constitution.