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CJI raps states for lower court vacancies, lack of funds

Governments of UP, Delhi and West Bengal came in for harsh criticism for failing to provide funds and manpower to courts even after lower court judges were appointed.

, ET Bureau|
Nov 16, 2018, 06.39 AM IST
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Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has criticised state governments for backlog in cases in subordinate courts caused due to vacancies, lack of infrastructure and funding. During a hearing on the issue on Thursday, the CJI rapped states for failing to provide funds, infrastructure and manpower to facilitate functioning of lower courts and pulled up high courts for failing to take the initiative in addressing the issue despite having superintendence powers over the subordinate courts.

Governments of UP, Delhi and West Bengal came in for harsh criticism for failing to provide funds and manpower to courts even after lower court judges were appointed.

“We want our judges to function. We need judges, we need courtrooms and we need manpower. We will make state governments, high courts and public service commissions responsible,” CJI Gogoi, sitting alongside Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph, said.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan is the amicus curiae in the case. Delhi was represented by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who said that the Delhi government did not have enough funds and needed central help. The CJI was not happy with the stand. The CJI took to task officers from UP, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya while evaluating their progress on enabling lower courts to function smoothly. Next in line to be heard are Gujarat, Himachal, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala.

At the last hearing, the CJI had demanded explanations from all states and high courts on the issue. Registrar generals of high courts have been asked to provide information about the proposed vacancies and what the court concerned had done to address the problem. At the last count, there were 5,133 vacancies in various states, which have a combined sanctioned strength of 22,306. The vacancies have created a logjam in the justice delivery system.

A record 2.5 crore cases are pending in lower courts and the time for a litigant to wrap up a case on an average exceeds 10 years. Several CJIs have grappled with the issue on the administrative side, without success. The Constitution has limited superintendence power over lower courts. The SC has no power over them. As high courts have remained lax, successive CJIs have also tried to deal with the issue through judicial orders to states and HCs.

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