Court seeks to know of steps to fill public prosecutors’ posts

New Delhi, March 4: The Delhi High Court has directed the city government to appraise the court on steps taken in filing up vacancies of additional and assistant public prosecutors in district courts.

A division bench of Justice Kailash Gambhir and Justice Sunita Gupta asked the Delhi government the reasons of delay in appointing prosecutors despite its earlier directions.

During the hearing, the Delhi government counsel told the bench that on Feb 26, the Union Public Service Commission recommended appointment of nine prosecutors out of 17 posts for assistant public prosecutors.

The court asked it to inform the steps taken for appointing the nine assistant public prosecutors. It further asked UPSC to inform on filing up of remaining vacancies of additional and assistant public prosecutors.

Wondering over the shortage of prosecutors in the courts, the bench also asked government to inform it as how it will appoint more additional and assistant public prosecutors after government’s advertisement for recruiting 80 civil judges and 14 in the higher judiciary, while 20 more courts of additional sessions judges have been created recently.

Taking the suo moto cognizance, the high court has been monitoring the issue of delays in trials since 2009.

Assistant public prosecutors are government lawyers appointed for the courts of the metropolitan magistrates, while additional public prosecutors serve in Sessions courts.

The Delhi government Jan 1 issued fresh advertisements inviting applications for direct recruitment of assistant public prosecutors on contract basis for six months.

However, clause 4 of the advertisement restricts the appointment to certain categories, as per which legal practitioners who have already worked as assistant public prosecutor for two years or more on contract or regular basis can only apply.

The government told the court that only 25 applications have been received and out of them five have been selected for appointment.

The court, however, asked Delhi government as to “why they have laid down such restrictions in the advertisement, which is why there is scanty response and which ultimately resulted in the appointment of just five assistant public prosecutors”.

On the issue of non-payment of fees to government counsel, the bench asked government why lawyers on the panel of Delhi government on civil side are not getting their bills settled.

The court also warned that it will summon the chief secretary if its orders are not complied with.

As per the data available with the directorate of prosecution, there are only 108 assistant public prosecutors in 143 metropolitan courts, while 60 additional public prosecutors serve in 65 sessions courts.

Since 2009, there has been a shortage of public prosecutors leading to delay in trials and overburdening of prosecutors as they have to handle the work of two or even three courts at a time.