Day 7 Arguments

Judicial Vacancies in the Lower Courts

Day 7 Arguments: 17th January 2019

A 3 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India is monitoring the steps taken by the High Courts and State Governments to fill all vacant judicial posts in the District and Subordinate Courts.

On a previous date of hearing, Mr. Shyam Divan who was assisting the Court as Amicus Curiae for the State of West Bengal, among other states, had presented the Court with the affidavits filed by Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary of the State on the availability of infrastructure. Note that the Court had earlier expressed its dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Government of West Bengal was dealing with the issue of judicial vacancies. However, in the last hearing, after reviewing the proposals put forth for the construction of 131 new court rooms and 40 new residences, the Court had directed the government of West Bengal to advertise and process fresh proposals in a timely manner, and the status report filed by the State of Wes Bengal was taken on record today.

In today’s hearing, the Court was assisted by Amicus Curiae Mr. Vijay Hansaria who had been appointed to make submissions on behalf of the State of of Madhya Pradesh, the High Courts of Madras, Odisha, Patna and Punjab and Haryana. Dealing first, with the State of Bihar, the primary issue raised before the Court was the lack of adequate infrastructure owing to the non availability of funds. The Court noted that there are vagaries being followed in the ratio of allotment of funds with respect to different States and further directed the Central Government to contribute 60% of the total amount that was required in order to ensure that adequate infrastructure was made available for the functioning of courtrooms to their maximum capacity as far the district and subordinate Courts in the State of Bihar were concerned.

In the case of the High Court of Madras and the State of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Vishwanathan referred to the report of the Registrar General of the High Court of Patna filed on the 20th of December which had recorded that all pending vacancies for Judicial Officers at the District & Subordinate Courts had been advertised. The Court took the submission on record and directed that the process for appointments to these posts should be completed within a period of 6 months.

The Court also took note of the details mentioned in the status report filed on 11.01.2019 on behalf of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, which referred to the particulars of the steps taken to fill of the Judicial Vacancies by the High court of Punjab & Haryana.

In addition to the aforementioned States, the Court further heard the submissions made by the Attorney General of India, Mr. K.K. Venugopal who apprised the Court of the position with respect to the Union Public Service Commission. Mr. Venugopal was specifically referring to the issue of availability of Grade III and Grade IV subordinate staff and the steps being taken to advertise for and appoint persons to vacant posts in a timely manner, so as to ensure that there were adequate support staff persons available on the appointment of new Judges.