NEW DELHI: High courts must speed up the recruitment of judicial officers for the lower judiciary as one of the reasons for high pendency is lack of judges, the Centre has said. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to chief justices of the 24 high courts urging them to hold timely examination and interviews to recruit judges for lower courts.
In his August 14 letter, Prasad pointed out that there are a total of 2,76,74,499 cases pending in the district and subordinate courts of the country. “One of the underlying reasons behind the high pendency is sometimes the inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies of judicial officers,” he wrote in the almost identical letters.
The sanctioned strength of the district and subordinate courts, he said, has increased from 19,518 judges in 2013 to 22,444 as in June, 2018. “However, the working strength of judges has not kept pace with the sanctioned strength. As on June 30, 2018, the total working strength was only 17,221 judges, indicating a vacancy of 5,223 judges,” he said.
Though the high courts have initiated steps to fill up vacancies, “as the high number of vacancies indicates that there is an urgent need to take further proactive steps to reduce the vacancies in a time-bound manner,” he wrote.
He urged the chief justices to monitor the status of the vacancies regularly and ensure “proper coordination with the State Public Service Commission so that the examination and the interviews are conducted in accordance with the time schedule prescribed by the Supreme Court”.