The government this year is unlikely to increase the approved strength of high court judges from 1,079 but focus on filing vacancies, a move which may pit it once again against the judiciary which has been demanding more judges to take on the backlog of cases.
Sources in the Law Ministry said the present strength of 1,079 is unlikely to be raised this year as the main focus would be to fill up vacancies in the 24 high courts.
The sanctioned strength of the high courts till 2014 was 906 judges and it was increased to 1,079 last June.
According to latest Law Ministry data, there were 430 vacancies in the high courts as on January 1 and the working or actual strength was 649.
Over three crore cases are pending in courts across India.
So far, the government has received names of 18 former judges for appointment in four high courts.
The 18 names have been received from the high courts of Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Allahabad and Calcutta.
The names are under process, highly-placed sources said.