The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday directed Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to take appropriate action for filling vacant posts of public prosecutors in various courts and look into the lack of facilities for the latter.
The division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih granted three months' time to both states and the Chandigarh authorities to comply with the directions and also to inform as to what steps they proposed to take to improve the working conditions for public prosecutors.
The court observed that public prosecutors were not even having proper sitting space, chairs, tables, library and stenographers, while advising the authorities to look into the possibility of providing them with laptops, as was the case in various other states.
The high court had taken suo motu notice of the shortage of public prosecutors in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, that had come to the fore at a meeting of district and sessions judges of both states and the UT at the Chandigarh Judicial Academy here on March 3.
During the arguments, Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal informed the court, "In Amritsar, there are around 45 assistant district attorneys/deputy district attorneys who are working from a single room of 10 ft x 10 ft. The same is the condition in various districts of Punjab and Haryana."
Aggarwal added that even one public prosecutor was handling three to four courts. "On the
administrative side, I request the high court that whenever court rooms are increased, one should also plan rooms for public prosecutors," he submitted.
The Haryana government's counsel informed the court that the state had recently appointed 136 assistant district attorneys. However, 49 posts of assistant district attorneys were vacant and these would be filled at the earliest. The Punjab government's counsel submitted that there was a shortage of 113 public prosecutors and the sanction had been sent recently to the Punjab Public Service Commission to overcome it.
The case would now come up for hearing on November 12.