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SC Takes Suo Motu Cognizance Of 5,133 Posts Lying Vacant In The Subordinate Judicial Bodies

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| October 23 , 2018 , 12:02 IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday took a suo moto cognizance of around 5000 posts lying vacant in the lower judicial bodies. 

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul took sou motu the writ petition titled Re: Filling up of Vacancies on Monday. The states are expected to file their replies by October 31. The matter will next come up for hearing on November 1.

It is noted that there was a total of 22,036 posts in the subordinate judiciary. Out of these, 5,133 posts were lying vacant. The court is seeking information from high courts and state governments across the country in this regard.

The Supreme Court on Monday said that the existence of these vacancies is "wholly unacceptable."

The bench, while pursuing the information collected by the Registry of the Supreme Court, Registries of different High Courts found out a certain inconsistency with regards to different stages in different States at which the recruitment process was for each post.

The division bench obsereved, “The information collected by the Registry of this Court from the Registries of different High Courts indicates that recruitment process/processes to fill up 4,180 posts are presently underway and the said recruitment processes are poised at different stages in different States. The information collected also indicates that total of 1,324 posts out of the 5,133 vacancies are yet to be subjected to any recruitment process."

The bench said, "There is an obvious mismatch of the figures mentioned above which is being also looked into by the Registry of this Court.”

The Bench also directed the high courts/state governments to submit the following information before it by the next date of hearing:

  1. 1. The dates on which the recruitment process/processes for the two categories of posts i.e. “Higher Judicial Service” and “Lower Judicial Service” had been initiated and is/are expected to be completed and appointments made;
  2. Whether the time taken or likely to be taken is beyond the Schedule formulated by this Court in Malik Mazhar Sultan (3) & Anr. Vs. U.P. Public Service Commission & Ors. If the time taken has exceeded the Schedule fixed by this Court the reasons therefor be furnished by the Registries of such High Courts/concerned authorities of the State where the recruitment is done through the Public Service Commission(s) which are in default;
  3. Whether the time expected to be taken to complete the on-going process/processes can be shortened and the process/processes completed before the time-schedule spelt out in Malik Mazhar Sultan (supra) which time-schedule this Court would understand to be indicating the outer time limit and not the minimum period for completion.;
  4. Number of vacancies that have occurred both in the Civil Judge cadre and the Higher Judicial Service cadre since the date of issuance of notification advertising the vacancies till the date on which the process/processes is/are expected to be complete;
  5. Whether the infrastructure and manpower available in the different States is adequate if all the posts that are borne in the cadre are to be filled up.

The Court has also requested a number of lawyers to assist the Court as Amicus Curiae. Senior Advocate Shyam Divan was called upon to assist the Court for the States of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and the North-Eastern States.

With respect to Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala, Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan.

For the states of Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Odisha, Patna and Punjab and Haryana, Senior Counsel Vijay Hansaria was requested to be Amicus.

While Gaurav Agrawal has been called upon to assist the Court for the states of Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura and Uttarakhand. Chief Justice Gogoi before taking oath said that he will take on the burgeoning pendency of cases in courts across the country on a priority during his 13-month long tenure as the Chief Justice of India.