Judicial Vacancies in the Lower Courts

In re: Filling up of Vacancies

The Supreme Court is monitoring steps taken by High Courts and State Governments to fill vacant judicial posts in the District and Subordinate Courts.



Amicus Curiae: Shyam Divan; K.V. Vishwanathan; Vijay Hansaria; Gaurav Agrawal



Lawyers: Sumeer Sodhi, Astha Sharma, Narendra Kumar

Case Details

Case Number: Suo Motu WP (C) 2/2018; CA 1867/2006

Next Hearing: March 4, 2024

Last Updated: March 4, 2024

Case Description

The Bench appointed four amici curiae to assist the Court in monitoring States:

  • Shyam Divan, responsible for Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and the North Eastern States
  • KV Vishwanathan, responsible for Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala
  • Vijay Hansaria, responsible for Madhya Pradesh and the High Courts of Madras, Odisha, Patna and Punjab & Haryana
  • Gaurav Agrawal, responsible for Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura and Uttarakhand

On 22 October 2018, a two-judge Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul took suo motu cognisance of the high number of judicial vacancies in the District (higher) and Subordinate Courts (hereafter lower courts). Note that suo motu means “on its own motion”. In other words, the Court took cognisance of the matter even though no petitioner had filed a petition praying for the Court to reduce judicial vacancies in the lower courts.

The high number of judicial vacancies is a major factor contributing to the very high number of pending cases before the courts.

On October 22 2018, invoking Article 142the Court ordered all High Courts and State governments to submit before November 1 2018 information pertaining to how they are filling judicial vacancies under their jurisdiction. The Court directed the High Courts and State governments to report on whether they will fill judicial vacancies in a timely fashion, as defined by Malik Mazhar Sultan. In Malik Mazhar Sultan, the Supreme Court had ordered all States to compose a fixed time schedule for filling judicial vacancies in their State and submit this schedule to the Court.

In the October 22 2018 order, the Bench took note of the total number of judicial vacancies. It noted that according to the information submitted by Registries of the High Courts, there are 22,036 judicial posts in the District and Subordinate Courts:

  • 23% of these judicial posts are vacant, i.e. 5133 judicial posts
  • Recruitment processes are underway for 4180 posts
  • For 1324 vacant posts, there is no recruitment process underway

The Bench has tagged Malik Mazhir Sultan to this case. The next hearing is on November 1 2018. The Bench will review the submissions by the High Courts and the State governments.