Tamil Nadu

‘State judiciary bogged down by unfilled vacancies’

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Judicial officers are hoping that judicial vacancies across the State are filled in 2019, as it would speed up disposal of cases in each district.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a judicial officer pointed out that even significant posts such as presiding officers of mahila courts, family courts, special courts for exclusive trial of land grabbing cases, motor accident claims tribunals and labour courts were lying vacant with other judicial officers given additional charge.

A news report carried in The Hindu on December 26 regarding district courts in the State all set to enter 2019 with a backlog of over 11 lakh cases has caused a quite a stir among judicial officers, who blame the huge number of judicial vacancies in almost every district for the delay in disposing of 6.24 lakh civil and 4.80 lakh criminal cases.

“Mahila courts are constituted for the specific purpose of expeditious disposal of cases within six months. The Supreme Court itself has been monitoring the progress of such courts. Yet, the posts of presiding officers of Mahila Courts in Erode, Madurai and a few other districts have been lying vacant for long, causing grave injustice to victims,” a trial judge said.

According to him, victims of rape and molestation have no choice but to appear before the in-charge courts on a regular basis, listen to the next date of adjournment and repeat the sequence over and over again.

“Such unproductive adjournments may lead to witnesses’ memory fading and in fact, help the accused escape from the clutches of law,” he added.

Another judicial officer pointed out that the posts of secretary to District Legal Services Authority and chairperson of Taxation Appellate Tribunal Authority in municipal corporations were also lying vacant in some districts, causing hitches in the conduct of legal awareness camps in villages and providing free legal aid to the poor.

Game changer

When contacted, the office-bearers of Tamil Nadu Judicial Officers Association (TNJOA) refused to comment on the issue.

However, Madras High Court officials involved in the recruitment process were confident that 2019 would be a game changer in filling up of judicial vacancies in the State.

According to them, vacancies in mahila courts and family courts could be filled up only with judicial officers in the cadre of district judge. Since, filling up those vacancies through promotions would cause a sudden vacuum in the feeder category of civil judges, it was decided to fill up the latter first before taking up the former.

It was in 2015 that the last recruitment of civil judges took place in the State. A year later, the Rights of Persons with Disablities Act came into force. Though the High Court quickly identified the posts, which could be reserved under the Act, the State government took quite a long time to approve the list and issue a government order. “A notification was issued on April 9, 2017, calling for applications for approximately 320 civil judge vacancies. More than 8,000 candidates applied. After a conducting a main examination, followed by a preliminary examination for shortlisted candidates and then a viva voce, we have provisionally selected over 220 civil judges,” a judicial officer said.

“This recruitment has been completed in record time. These judges will join service soon and undergo in-service training at Tamil Nadu Judicial Academy in batches. Once these judicial officers settle down, we will commence filling up vacancies in the cadre of district judges too through promotions as well as direct recruiment,” the officer asserted.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:47:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/state-judiciary-bogged-down-by-unfilled-vacancies/article25882272.ece

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