Nothing can be more important than filling up judicial vacancies across country: SC

Nothing can be more important than filling up huge vacancies of judicial officers in trial courts across the country, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday while monitoring the progress made by all 24 High Courts and 36 states and UTs.

The apex court on October 22 last year had, on its own, taken note of over 5,000 vacant posts of judicial officers in lower courts and sought information from all the high courts, states and Union Territories (UTs).

Law Secretaries of 29 states and seven UTs and the Registrar Generals (RGs) of 24 High Courts showed up on Tuesday in the crowded courtroom, presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in pursuance of an earlier order asking them to apprise the top court of the fresh status of processes undertaken by them to fill up the vacancies of judicial officers as on June 30.

Delineating the future course of action to tackle the problem, the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said, “Nothing can be more important then this (judicial vacancy). If required, we will deal with this case whole day”.

The states and the RGs of High Courts came prepared with the responses to the queries of the apex court on various aspects of appointment of judicial officers and said that they are adhering to the time schedule.

The Chief Justice asked some of the states that they should complete the task ahead of the time schedule.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said: “Broadly, the Supreme Court’s order passed in the Malik Mazhar Sultan case (on time-line for appointment of judicial officers) has been complied with by the states.”

He said wherever there is slight deviation, reasons have been recorded by the states and the High Courts for that in the reports.

During the day-long hearing, then bench expressed surprise over the fact that some states like UP has more sanctioned strength of ADJs (HJS) then Junior and Senior Civil Judges and contrary was the position in states like Maharashtra where the total posts of lower judicial officers are more than that of ADJs. 

The bench expressed surprise over the fact that in Haryana, only nine persons, out of 14,000 law graduates, were selected for the posts of Junior Civil Judges.

“Some universities must have given Law degree to them. You found only nine persons suitable out of 14,000 for the post of civil judge,” the bench said.   The bench on Wednesday will deal with the vacancies in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala.