On 22nd October 2018, a two-judge Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul took suo motu cognisance of the high number of judicial vacancies in various States. In other words, the Bench took cognisance of the matter even though no petitioner has filed a civil petition requesting the Court to reduce judicial vacancies in the lower courts.
In the previous hearing, the Court heard the Chief Secretary of West Bengal present on the status of judicial infrastructure in the State. The Court also heard Amicus Curiae KV Viswanathan present on behalf of the following States: Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala.
In yesterday's hearing, the Court was not satisfied with the affidavits submitted by the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary of West Bengal. Upon the request of Amicus Curiae Shyam Divan, CJI Gogoi gave the Chief Secretary the opportunity to present the Court with a 'concrete plan' at the end of yesterday's hearing. Since the Court ran out of time, the matter was listed for this morning, before the CBI Dispute hearing.
Today, the Court heard Amicus Curiae S Divan present submissions on behalf of the State of West Bengal. He submitted that the State's status report on the availability of infrastructure records 22 different construction proposals. These proposals lay out plans for the construction of 131 court halls and 40 residences, which are scheduled for completition in 2020.
He stated that the remaining construction proposals will be submitted in 2019. Further, he submitted that the Chief Secretary has already submitted additional proposals for the construction of another 76 court halls and 31 residences.
The Court ordered the State of West Bengal to advertise for and process fresh proposals in a timely manner. The Court will reassess the matter on 17/01/19.