- The Supreme Court (SC) recently pulled up the state governments and their respective high courts for the delay in filling up the vacant posts in higher and subordinate judiciary and infrastructure for the functioning of the courts.
- A SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had suo motu notice of over 5,000 vacancies for judicial officers and directed all the 24 high courts and 36 states and UTs to apprise it of remedial measures.
- The SC had earlier noted that there were a total of 22,036 posts in the district and subordinate judiciary, ranging from district judges to junior civil judges, across the States.
- It said 5,133 out of the 22,036 posts were vacant and more than three crore cases are pending in the lower courts.
- The bench took stock of the situation in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and the North-Eastern states.
- In Uttar Pradesh, the court noted that out of the 1,000 vacancies in lower judiciary, 394 posts are in higher judicial services (HJS) of which 364 vacancies have been filled till date.
- However, the UP government responded that the judicial infrastructure in the state will be upgraded by providing 371 additional courtrooms by June 2019.
- It also assured the bench that it will fill up the vacancy and provide adequate infrastructure for the judiciary to function.
- The top court while taking into note the lack of infrastructure and staff for the judiciary in West Bengal, also warned the state that it will summon Chief Secretary if the need arises.
- On the filing up of vacancies in Delhi, the Supreme Court was critical of the fact that there are 201 vacancies in Delhi, but the recruitment process was ongoing only with respect to 100 posts.
- The bench, however, expressed satisfaction with progress made in Maharashtra, Goa, Chhattisgarh and some north-eastern states.
- The apex court has now posted the case for hearing on December 5 when it will take up case of Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala.
- The bench noted that the source of the problem lay in poor infrastructure, from courtrooms to residences for judges, and a sheer lackadaisical approach to conducting the appointment process on time.