The Supreme Court on Thursday cautioned the States and the High Courts that it would resort to a “centralised selection mechanism” if they did not act promptly to fill the over 5,000 judicial posts lying vacant in the lower judiciary.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, said the States and the High Courts were under its “constant gaze” on this issue. “We will do it ourselves,” the Chief Justice warned them in a suo motu hearing on the vacancies in the subordinate courts.
The court had in a judgment given a time frame of one year for completing the recruitment of additional district judges and nine months for civil judges, junior division.
The remarks from the Bench, also comprising Justices U.U. Lalit and K.M. Joseph, came after it perused the records of various High Courts, which make the appointments to the subordinate judiciary for each State.
The court said their attitude towards filling the vacancies was at best “casual”. “All High Courts and the Public Service Commission are very casual,” the court observed.
“The most important part is infrastructure. If there are 22,036 sanctioned posts, the infrastructure provided must be able to maintain the functioning of those judges. If the infrastructure — like courtrooms and support staff — are only for 18,000 or 19,000 posts, how will they function? This is where the role of the State governments comes in,” the court observed.
The Bench found that in Haryana, the advertisement for filling 60 posts of judges was announced in 2015 and 19,000 law graduates applied, but the exam was cancelled. When a fresh advertisement was issued in 2018, 13,000 more candidates applied. But the website crashed.
Likewise, the court also pulled up the Delhi High Court for its registrar-general’s inability to appear before it during the hearing. It asked the registrars-general of the High Courts of Allahabad, Bombay, Calcutta, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and the northeastern States to appear, along with senior State officers, before it on November 15.