The Supreme Court on Monday took suo motu cognisance of over 5,000 vacancies in the lower judiciary across the country, saying the situation is “wholly unacceptable”.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi found that even the official statistics provided by various High Courts on the recruitment processes “under way” did not match. The Supreme Court said it wanted specific, updated information by October 31 from the High Courts.
Over three crore cases lie pending in lower courts.
In a five-page order, the Supreme Court recorded that there are a total of 22,036 posts in the district and subordinate judiciary, from district judges to junior civil judges, across the States. As on date, 5,133 posts out of the total 22,036 are vacant, the court found. It said that information received from various High Courts say that recruitment is on to fill 4,180 of the 5,133 vacant posts. However, the same data show that recruitment is yet to start in 1,324 out of the 5,133 vacancies.
Mistmatch of figures
“There is an obvious mismatch in the figures mentioned above which is being also looked into by the Registry of this court. The Registry of this court is, therefore, directed to register a suo motu writ petition,” Chief Justice Gogoi said in the order for the Bench.
The Supreme Court asked the High Courts’ registries to provide the Secretary-General, Supreme Court, with information, such as when the recruitment process had commenced; whether it is expected to be completed within the schedule formulated by the Supreme Court in the Malik Mazhar Sultan vs U.P. Public Service Commission & Ors judgment; when the appointments would be made; whether the time expected to be taken to complete the ongoing process/processes can be shortened and so on.