The Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019, passed the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019, to increase the strength of Supreme Court judges to thirty-three, excluding the Chief Justice of India.
As per the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, the amendment to the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956, was being sought to deal with the constant rise in the pendency of cases.
“1: The pendency of cases in the Supreme Court of India has constantly been on the rise due to comparatively higher rate of institution of cases. As on the 1st day of June, 2019, there were 58669 cases pending in the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of India has intimated that inadequate strength of judges is one of the prime reasons for backlog of cases in the Supreme Court. It is not possible for the Chief Justice of India to constitute five Judges Bench on a regular basis to hear cases involving substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution as it would result in constitution of less number of Division Benches which would lead to delay in hearing of other civil and criminal matters
2: The feeder cadre of Chief Justices and Judges of the High Courts have increased from 906 to 1,079 and presently new High Courts have also been established in the previous years. This has led to increase in the disposal of cases at the High Court level leading to larger number of appeals to the Supreme Court.
3: It is, therefore, proposed to amend the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 to increase the number of Judges in the Supreme Court from present thirty to thirty-three, excluding the Chief Justice of India."
Presently, the Supreme Court is functioning at its full strength of 30 judges as per Article 124 of the Indian Constitution since the appointments of Justices BR Gavai, Surya Kant, Aniruddha Bose and AS Bopanna in May this year.