Delhi High Court directs UPSC to file fresh status report in pleas seeking appointment of Public Prosecutors

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The Court was hearing pleas seeking the appointment of public prosecutors for all Delhi courts. The matter will be heard next on March 15. 

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to file a fresh status report in a batch of pleas seeking the appointment of Public Prosecutors for Delhi Courts.

During the hearing, the senior counsel appearing for the petitioners submitted that a status report had been filed in the matter. He contended that right from the top, the Director’s post is vacant and only 42 public prosecutors are there and the rest 108 posts are vacant. The senior counsel added that this is despite continuous orders of the high court.

Advocate Gautam Narayan appearing for respondents referred to the status report filed and contended that it is an ongoing process, and efforts are being taken.

To this, Justice Subramonium Prasad said, “It is not an ongoing process. If it was an ongoing process then there would never have been so many vacant posts.”

Narayan further stated that there is some lethargy and said, “We are trying to put our house in order”.

Senior Advocate Rajeev K Virmani, the Amicus Curiae contended that the lethargy is resulting in adjournments and the accused are being brought to the courts and then taken back.

Advocate Naresh Kaushik appearing for the UPSC referred to the affidavit which submitted that on October 7, 2020, the Commission received only one proposal for the recruitment of 80 Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) positions in Delhi. A total of 3,155 candidates applied for the position, and 2,122 candidates took the Recruitment Test on September 19, 2021. 

"Following the completion of the Recruitment Test and review of the documents submitted by the candidates, the Commission called 261 candidates for interviews for the position, which are scheduled to take place from 06.02.2023 to 01.03.2023. As a result, the recruitment process is well underway", the affidavit stated.

Furthermore, the affidavit stated, "The statement made by the counsel of GNCT of Delhi as mentioned in the order dated 11.01.2023 is incorrect and inappropriate in as much as no fresh proposal has been received from the Govt. of NCT of Delhi for filling up either the post of Public Prosecutors or Assistant Public Prosecutors in GNCT of Delhi."

Taking note of the submissions, a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed UPSC to file a fresh status report and accordingly, listed the matter for further hearing on March 15.

It is to be noted that the division bench had recently pulled up the Delhi Government for a huge backlog of cases and had directed it to fill up the vacant posts of Public Prosecutors at the earliest. The court had observed that the criminal justice system already has a huge backlog of cases that can only be cleared if vacancies for Public Prosecutors are filled at the earliest.

The court had noted that there are 108 posts of Public Prosecutors lying vacant.

Advocate Ashish Dixit appearing for the Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association had submitted that one Public Prosecutor (PP) is handling almost three to four courts and that this has brought the entire criminal justice system to a standstill.

Senior Advocate Rajeev K Virmani, the Amicus Curiae had informed the bench that 108 courts in Delhi are non-functional for want of Public Prosecutors.

The bench had stated that the Delhi government is the only authority that can fill these vacancies and had directed the Delhi government to expedite the process of filling up the vacant posts of Public Prosecutors.

Case Title: Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association v. Rajiv Mehrishi & Anr. (connected matters)