“We want Judges, if you can’t appoint, we will do it”, SC rebukes High Courts for vacancies in Subordinate Judiciary

Murali Krishnan November 1 2018
subordinate judiciary

The Supreme Court today came down upon High Courts and State governments for the burgeoning vacancies in the subordinate judiciary.

Hearing a petition concerning appointments to subordinate judiciary and adequacy of infrastructure and manpower in subordinate judiciary, a bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi remarked,

“If any High Court can’t do it, we will do it. We will have a centralised system. If you don’t want us to do it, then you do it.

You will be in our constant gaze. We want judges in place.”

The Bench also comprising Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph then proceeded to summon the Registrar Generals of High Courts in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and the North-Eastern States.

During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had sought the following information from all High Courts and States governments.

- The dates on which the recruitment process/processes for the two categories of posts i.e. “Higher Judicial Service” and “Lower Judicial Service” had been initiated and is/are expected to be completed and appointments made;

- Whether the time taken or likely to be taken is beyond the Schedule formulated by this Court in Malik Mazhar Sultan (3) & Anr. Vs. U.P. Public Service Commission & Ors. If the time taken has exceeded the Schedule fixed by this Court the reasons therefor be furnished by the Registries of such High Courts/concerned authorities of the State where the recruitment is done through the Public Service Commission(s) which are in default;

- Whether the time expected to be taken to complete the on-going process/processes can be shortened and the process/processes completed before the time-schedule spelt out in Malik Mazhar Sultan (supra) which time-schedule this Court would understand to be indicating the outer time limit and not the minimum period for completion.;

- Number of vacancies that have occurred both in the Civil Judge cadre and the Higher Judicial Service cadre since the date of issuance of notification advertising the vacancies till the date on which the process/processes is/are expected to be complete;

- Whether the infrastructure and man-power available in the different States is adequate if all the posts that are borne in the cadre are to be filled up.”

When the matter was taken up today, the Court took note of the responses of various High Courts.

The Court particularly singled out Delhi High Court stating,

“You have overshot your schedule (in filling up vacancies). No you are saying you will do it by December 2018. But you are not making any commitment on when the appointments will be made. You have just stated that the process is expected to be complete by December 2018.”

CJI Gogoi was also not impressed by the fact that only Additional Registrar of Delhi High Court was present in the court and not the Registrar General.

“Why Additional Registrar? Where is the Registrar General? He should have been here. Is he too busy to assist this court?”, demanded Gogoi j.

He then told all the High Courts and State governments to fill up vacancies even going to the extent of stating that the Supreme Court will evolve a centralised mechanism, if the High Courts fail to appoint judges to the subordinate judiciary on time.

“If any High Court can’t do it, we will do it. We will have a centralised system. If you don’t want us to do it, then you do it.

You will be in our constant gaze. We want judges in place.”

The Court then proceeded to pass its order. It noted that there is a lack of infrastructure and manpower for the subordinate judiciary. It also noted that the selection process for appointment of judges are at various stages of completion in different States.

The court stated that it would consider the cases of different States in four groups. The first group to be considered will be the States of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, and the North-Eastern States.

The Registrar Generals of the High Courts of the aforementioned States have to be personally present in the Supreme Court for the next date of hearing and will have to be aware of all aspects relating to the matter. The Court also directed the Chief Secretaries of the above States to depute a suitable officer who is conversant with all details of the issues involved.

The matter will now be taken up on November 15.

Read the order below. 

Malik Mazhar Sultan v. UP Public Service commission