Thursday, November 30, 2023

Appointment of Public Prosecutors: Delhi High Court directs UPSC to file fresh status report on 108 vacancies

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to file a fresh status report over 108 vacancies of Public Prosecutors in Delhi.

The Bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, after hearing arguments from both the sides, directed the respondents to complete the appointment process by the next date of hearing, which was fixed at March 15.

The Counsel appearing for UPSC contended that only one proposal for the recruitment of 80 vacancies for the post of the Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) in the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) was received by the Commission on October 7, 2022.

The Commission said that it has always tried to complete the process of recruitment in all cases, more particularly in the case of Public Prosecutor and APPs, as expeditiously as possible and the current process was likely to culminate in a final result very soon in the month of March, 2023.

UPSC had earlier filed a status report in the Supreme Court, submitting that the statement made by the Counsel of GNCT of Delhi on January 11, 2023 was incorrect and inappropriate in as much as no fresh proposal had been received from the Government of NCT of Delhi for filling up either the post of Public Prosecutors or Assistant Public Prosecutors in GNCT of Delhi.

The Bench today observed that the criminal justice system was already plagued with a huge backlog of cases and the same could be remedied only if vacancies of Public Prosecutors were filled up at the earliest.

The High Court, while hearing a suo motu writ petition on improvement in criminal justice system, observed that the vacancy of 108 public prosecutors was ‘alarming’.

Representing the Delhi Prosecutors Association, Advocate Ashish Dixit submitted that each Public Prosecutor was handling almost three to four courts and that this has brought the entire criminal justice system to a standstill.

The Bench further directed the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) to file a reply in the matter as directed by this Court, failing which the Court would summon the Secretary of DoPT.

The High Court had initiated a petition on its own on the poor condition of the prosecutors here.

The court was also informed that one of the causes for the delay in the disposal of the cases with regard to undertrials was the shortage of prosecutors as well as infrastructure facilities and supporting staff for them.

The Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that right from the top, the Director’s post was vacant and only 42 Public Prosecutors were there and 108 were vacant.

He further submitted that this was despite the continuous orders of the Court.

Representing the respondents, Advocate Gautam Narayan contended that the status report shall be considered in its entirety, as they had taken steps to improve the justice delivery system.

While referring to the status report, the Counsel submitted that it was an ongoing process and efforts were being taken.

Justice Subramonium Prasad noted that this was not an ongoing process. If it was an ongoing process, then there would never have been so many vacant positions, said Justice Prasad.

The Counsel then submitted that there was some lethargy and that it was trying to put its house in order.

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