SC Takes Note of 327 Vacancies of Judicial Officers in Tamil Nadu, Passes Directions

The Supreme Court has taken note of 327 vacancies, out of total sanctioned strength of 1,369 judicial officers in lower courts in Tamil Nadu, and passed directions to fill these posts in a time-bound manner.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of submissions of Additional Advocate General (AAG) Amit Anand Tiwari, appearing for the state government, that steps are being taken to fill up posts of district judges, senior civil judges and junior civil judges in the state.

“The process to fill up these vacancies has to be completed in a time-bound manner,” the CJI said on November 9.

The top court, dealing with a 2006 plea relating to the improvement of judicial infrastructure including filling up of vacancies in lower judiciary across the country, passed a slew of directions on the issue pertaining to Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

The bench took note of the submissions of senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who is assisting it as an amicus curiae, and also perused the report submitted by the Madras High Court on the number of vacancies and steps taken to fill them up.

As per the October 11 report of the registrar general of the high court, the total sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the state is 1,369 and they are in the cadre of district judge, senior civil judge and junior civil judge.

“There are 327 vacancies (approximately 23 per cent of the sanctioned strength),” the bench said, adding, “In the cadre of District Judge, out of the sanctioned strength of 349, there are 84 vacancies (the counsel indicates that there are two more vacancies which are being added, making a total of 86 vacancies).”

In the cadre of senior civil judge, out of a sanctioned strength of 364, there are 77 vacancies, the bench noted. “In the cadre of Junior Civil Judge, out of a sanctioned strength of 656, there are 166 vacancies,” it said.

Issuing timeline, the bench, in its order, noted the submission that to fill up 166 vacancies of junior civil judges, the main written examination was held on November 4 and 5 this year.

“The process shall be concluded positively on or before 31 December 2023. Appointment orders shall be issued before the end of February 2024,” it said.

On filling up of vacancies of senior civil judge, the bench was told that the process was being undertaken keeping in view of the large number of vacancies in the feeder cadre.

The bench was told that in the district judge category, 50 vacancies were advertised under the direct recruitment category.

“The preliminary examination has been concluded. The main written examination is scheduled to take place on 2 and 3 December 2023. The viva-voce is to take place on 21 January 2024. The entire selection process shall be concluded no later than by 31 March 2024,” the bench said.

Likewise, the bench noted the status of recruitment process to fill up posts of district judge under different categories and said, “The entire process shall be concluded not later than by 31 March 2024.”

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On the issue of lack of infrastructure in lower courts across Tamil Nadu, the bench directed that AAG Tiwari and lawyer Anandh Kannan, appearing for the Madras High Court, “shall meet the Registrar General of the High Court and the Chief Secretary of the State of Tamil Nadu to facilitate due and proper steps being taken on the infrastructural issues pertaining to the District Judiciary, including the allotment of suitable land as may be identified by the High Court by the concerned Collectors/District Magistrates”.

The bench also passed similar directions to fill up vacancies in lower judiciary in Union Territory of Puducherry.

The bench has now listed the plea on November 24 to deal with the issues of vacancies and infrastructure in lower judiciary in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Kerala. Lawyer Gaurav Agrawal, amicus curiae, will assist the bench.

Earlier, the top court had questioned the delay in completing the process of recruitment of district judges in Madhya Pradesh and asked the high court to prepare and publish the schedule from preliminary examination to the declaration of final results of selection.

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