According to the latest data compiled by the Law Ministry, out of the approved strength of 1,044 judges in the 24 high courts, there are 443 vacancies. With an approved strength of 31 judges, the Supreme Court has five vacancies.
The Allahabad High Court faces the maximum vacancies of 86 judges, followed by 38 in the Madras High Court.
The approved strength of the Madras High Court has been increased from 60 to 75 with effect from December 21, 2015.
Vacancies in high courts continue to mount with the collegium which made a comeback three months ago yet to recommend fresh names for the posts, including that of chief justices to eight of them.
In other words, the high courts are functioning with 601 judges as on January one.
The high courts of Bombay and Punjab and Haryana have 35 vacancies each. The High Court of Tripura has no vacancy, while the Meghalaya High Court is one judge short of its approved strength of four. The Sikkim High Court with an approved strength of three is also short of one judge.
There was no system in place between April 13 and October 16 last year on appointments to the Supreme Court and the high courts. The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and an accompanying Constitutional Amendment Act were notified on April 13, but were declared as unconstitutional by the apex court on October 16.
When the NJAC Act was in force, the proposed panel had failed to function as the then Chief Justice of India Justice H L Dattu had refused to be a part of it.
No judge could be elevated as chief justice of a high court, transferred to another high court or elevated to the Supreme Court as there was no system in place for the purpose.