The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up various State governments and the administrative side of the High Courts for delay in filling vacancies in subordinate judicial services.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had taken suo motu cognisance of more than 5,000 vacancies for subordinate judicial posts even as pendency touched crores.
It found that the source of the problem lay in poor infrastructure, from courtrooms to residences for judges, and a sheer lackadaisical approach to conducting the appointment process on time.
“We want our judges. We will put them in their posts, and if they cannot work, it is because the government is not giving them the infrastructure... Enough is enough,” Chief Justice Gogoi said. The Supreme Court had earlier warned of centralising appointments to the subordinate judiciary. The court found there were more than 1,000 vacancies in Uttar Pradesh alone.
Bengal services hit
It discovered that a lack of infrastructure and staff plagued the West Bengal judicial services. “We will get the Chief Secretary and pin him down. The State should tell us why courtrooms and residential houses are not being provided for judges and support staff. Is it not their duty to do so?” the Chief Justice asked.
The court took note of an undertaking given by the Uttar Pradesh government that it would provide adequate housing arrangements for judicial officers.
The Bench found that the recruitment process was under way for only 100 vacancies in Delhi, which has over 200 vacancies.
The move taking suo motu cognisance of the chronically ailing condition of the lower judiciary was only recently highlighted by Chief Justice Gogoi as one which required immediate attention.
More than three crore cases are pending in the lower courts.
In a five-page order earlier, the Supreme Court had recorded that there were a total of 22,036 posts in the district and subordinate judiciary, ranging from district judges to junior civil judges, across the States.
It said 5,133 out of the 22,036 posts were vacant.