Day 18 ArgumentsJudicial Vacancies in the Lower Courts
November 6th 2019
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose is monitoring steps taken to fill vacant judicial posts in the District and Subordinate Courts. In particular, it is assessing whether the High Courts and State Governments are following the guidelines issued in Malik Mazhar Sultan. For assistance, the Court has appointed four Amicus Curiae:
- 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
Today’s hearing began with Chief Justice Gogoi listing out a schedule for the upcoming week. He stated that the Bench would finish hearing Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria today. Then tomorrow it will hear Amicus Curiae KV Vishwanathan. Next week, it will hear Amicus Curiae Shyam Divan on Wednesday, November 13th and Amicus Curiae Gaurav Agarwal on Friday, November 15th.
Various intervention applications have been filed. They all pertain to individual judges who have cleared the judicial services exam, but have yet to be appointed. Chief Justice Gogoi directed the parties to return on appropriate dates: U.P. Judicial Services on Wednesday, Jharkhand Judicial Services on Friday.
Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria presents status reports
For the rest of the hearing, the Bench heard Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria update the Bench on the state of vacancies in Bihar, Punjab and Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Amicus Curiae Hansaria began by updating the Bench on the status of appointments in Bihar. The Patna High Court has submitted an action plan to meet the promotion quota. It currently has 12 direct recruitments compared to 93 direct promotions. Chief Justice Gogoi remarked that the Bench had taken note of the action plan contained in the High Court’s 14 September affidavit. He said that the Bench approved of the plan and directed the High Court to implement it within a week from today. Remarking on direct recruitments, the Bench said that the High Court should use the waiting list in instances where a recruit decides not to join.
Amicus Curiae Hansaria submitted that rules regarding the appointment of junior civil judges have been amended. Taking note of this, Chief Justice Gogoi directed the Public Service Commission to complete the process of appointing civil judges in four weeks from today, instead of only two. Further, he directed Amicus Curiae Hansaria to submit the amended rules to the Supreme Court.
Next, Amicus Curiae Hansaria reported that official residences for the new recruits were lacking. Chief Justice Gogoi directed the State Government to take necessary steps to resolve this. He remarked that perhaps reimbursements could be managed in a similar manner as to how they were managed for Orissa.
Punjab and Haryana
With regards to the State of Punjab, Chief Justice Gogoi issued no new directions. He remarked that the Court’s directions with regards to adequate infrastructure remain the same.
With regards to the State of Haryana, Amicus Curiae Hansaria submitted that the State had yet to submit its latest status report. The advocate for the State explained that a relevant writ petition was still pending before the Court. Chief Justice Gogoi listed the petition for Wednesday, November 13th .
Amicus Curiae Hansaria submitted that 5 promotions had been posted. He added that the High Court had appointed 2 of the 8 succesful candidates. He said that some of the candidates lacked the basic computer skills required. CJI Gogoi directed the High Court to issue appointment orders for all successful candidates.
Regarding promotions, Amicus Curiae Hansaria submitted that the High Court has finished selecting and recommending 157 Junior Civil Judges, but only 38 of these appointments have been finalised. Amicus Curiae Hansaria said that the main reason for this was that police verification remained pending. Further, he said that the High Court had yet to list new vacant posts under the promotion quota.
The Advocate for the State requested a month for the police verification process to begin. CJI Gogoi remarked that the recommended recruits should not ‘suffer humiliation‘ at the hand of police Sub-Inspectors.
On direct recruitment, Amicus Curiae Hansaria stated that 3 out of 55 candidates were appointed. He added that three candidates were withdrawn as they were already serving as judicial officers. He explained that serving officers cannot be directly recruited. Chief Justice Gogoi observed that the 3 withheld appointments should be re-advertised, clarifying this issue. Regarding the other three appointments, he said they should be finalised once police verification is complete.
Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
Regarding promotions in Tamil Nadu, Amicus Curiae Hansaria reported that the appointment of District Judges are pending before the Promotional Committe of the High Court. Chief Justice Gogoi directed the Committee to finish selecting the promotion candidates within four weeks and the State Government to enforce the promotions within two weeks.
On direct recruitments in the State, Amicus Curiae Hansaria reported that 20 posts have been filled. He said that the posts are set to be notified within two weeks, meaning that the process is on schedule to be completed in a timely manner. Further, he reported that preliminary exams to fill another 176 vacancies are scheduled for November 24th 2019 by the Public Service Commission. Regarding vacancies in the Union Territory of Puducherry, Amicus Curiae Hansaria submitted that nine additional Junior judge posts need to be filled, but are awaiting the government’s approval. The advocate for Tamil Nadu submitted that the Court had mistakenly recorded that the matter falls under the State, when it should fall under the Union of India. CJI Gogoi made note of the necessary correction.
On infrastructure in Puducherry, Chief Justice Gogoi directed relevant authorities to act as recommended in Amicus Curiae Hansaria’s note.
The Bench rose at 11.44 AM. The next hearing is tomorrow – the Bench will hear Amicus Curiae KV Vishwanathan.
(Court reporting by Sanya Talwar)