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The Supreme Court today took up the matter of vacancies in the subordinate judiciary, seeking information from high courts and state governments across the country.
While taking up suo motu the writ petition titled Re: Filling up of Vacancies, the Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul noted that there was a total of 22,036 posts in the subordinate judiciary. Out of these, 5,133 posts were lying vacant.
On perusing the numbers, the Court found some discrepancies with respect to the stage at which the recruitment process was for each post.
“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.
There is an obvious mis-match of the figures mentioned above which is being also looked into by the Registry of this Court.”
The existence of these vacancies, the Court described, is wholly unacceptable. It therefore directed the Registry to file a suo motu writ petition.
The Bench also directed the high courts/state governments to submit the following information before it by the next date of hearing:
“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 man-power 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. For the States of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and the North-Eastern States, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan was called upon to assist the Court.
Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan was asked to assist the Court with respect to Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala.
Senior Counsel Vijay Hansaria was requested to be Amicus with respect to the states of Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Odisha, Patna and Punjab and Haryana, while Gaurav Agrawal has been called upon to assist the Court for the states of Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
The states are expected to file their replies by October 31. The matter will next come up for hearing on November 1.
Ostensibly, this is part of CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s “plan” to address the issue of burgeoning pendency of cases in courts across the country.
Read the order: