Lower courts across India short of five thousand judges

RSTV Bureau

Law-gen

Lower courts, the institutions of civil and criminal litigations across the country, are facing shortage of nearly 5,000 judges, mainly because of the inability to find suitable candidates and pending cases challenging previous recruitments, a law ministry document says.

As on June 30, 2016, there was a shortfall of 4,937 judges in lower courts across the country, a note circulated to members of the parliamentary consultative committee attached with the law ministry said.

The sanctioned strength of the subordinate judiciary, considered the backbone of Indian justice delivery system, was increased from 16,949 at the end of 2010 to 22,288 in December, 2016.

“Some of the reasons for delays in filling up of vacancies, as indicated by the high courts, is the inability to find suitable candidates, pending court cases challenging previous recruitments and difficulties in coordination between high courts and state public service commissions,” the note says.

The note also talked about the shortage of court rooms. There are only 17,576 court rooms/court halls and only 14,363 residential units available for district and subordinate courts in the country.

It says that this is against the sanctioned strength of 22,288 for judicial officers/judges of district and subordinate courts in the country.

“The focus is, therefore, to match the number of court halls/court rooms with the number of sanctioned strength of judicial officers/judges in the district and subordinate courts. This will help in improving the functioning and performance of the judiciary in the country,” the note states.

On November 16, the government had decided to continue with a scheme sponsored by it to develop the infrastructure of the lower courts, which would help complete the construction of 3,000 courtrooms and 1,800 residential units for the judicial officers of subordinate courts.

(With inputs from PTI)