The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a series of directions to streamline the selection and appointment of judicial officers in the Subordinate Courts which faced the problems of shortage of judges resulting into huge backlog of cases across the country.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India approved a broad time schedule for selection and appointment of judicial officers and asked the Chief Justices of all the High Courts to appoint a committee of two or three judges within a month to ensure that it was adhered to.
Emphasizing the need for timely filling up of the vacancies, the apex court also requested the Chief Justices to set up special cell headed by a Registrar for assisting the committee and the Chief Justice for complying with the schedule.
The Bench rejected as "wholly misplaced" the apprehension of Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal that the transfer of powers of Judges’ appointments from state government to High Court would amount to interfering with the independent functioning of the state government.
It directed that the registrar of the special cell send a report regarding the filling up of the vacancies by January 31 every year to the Supreme Court Registrar General with their copies to the Union Law Minister and law ministries of the concerned states.
It permitted the Patna High Court to change its time schedule from June to December to December to June in view of the regular floods in the state. Delhi has been permitted to make appointments twice a year.
However, the order will not apply to Sikkim, which has a very small cadre of judicial officers with only 500 cases pending, including 50 in the High Court.
The order was passed on the basis of a synopsis prepared by Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria who had analyzed the time scheduled filed by various states.
Earlier, the court had passed an order in this regard in April last year.