- The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of over 5,000 vacancies in the lower judiciary across the country.
- Under the schedule, the process for recruitment for filling posts for “Higher Judicial Service” and “Lower Judicial Service” has to commence on March 31 and be completed by October 31 of the calendar year.
- Background: Chief Justice Gogoi before taking oath has said that he will take on the burgeoning pendency figures on a priority during his 13-month long tenure as the Chief Justice of India.
- Data: The information received from 24 High Courts reveals 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.
- SC expressed concern over mismatch in the number of vacancies, the number of posts for which recruitment process is underway and those still pending.
- Constitutional provisions: SC exercised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 (power of the Supreme Court to seek enforcement of its orders) under the Constitution and directed all the 24 high courts and 36 states and Union Territories to apprise it of issues like vacancies and the time frame within which they can be filled up.
- SC sought information from High Courts’ registries about commencement and expected deadline for recruitment process, as observed in the Malik Mazhar Sultan vs U.P. Public Service Commission & Ors judgment.
- SC also sought information whether the time expected to be taken to complete the ongoing process can be shortened and infrastructure and manpower available in the different states are adequate if all the posts that are borne in the cadre are to be filled up.
- The Supreme Court gave October 31 as deadline to various High Courts for specific, updated information.