Fill up prosecutor vacancies within 8 weeks: HC to govt

DelhiThere are just 108 assistant public prosecutors in 143 Metropolitan courts, which handle over 100 cases a day

Upset over the delay in filling up vacancies of prosecutors in district courts, the Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Delhi government to appoint assistant public prosecutors on a contract-basis within eight weeks.

The High Court has been monitoring the issue of delays in trials since 2009. The court was informed that the major reason for adjournment of hearings was because prosecutors were not present or needed further time to prepare.

The court of Justice Kailash Gambhir and Justice Indermeet Kaur on Thursday directed the government to appoint prosecutors on a contract-basis and submit a status report within eight weeks.

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

Considering the fact that most courts in the capital handle over 100 cases a day, prosecutors say they are overburdened and are often pulled up by judges in case they are not properly prepared in a case.

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.

There had been several instances where a court had imposed a fine on the prosecutor for not being available for the hearing, due to he/she being engaged in a different court.

In February this year, the government had assured the court that the process of recruitment and selection of assistant public prosecutors to meet the shortfall had been initiated. It said a letter dated February 21, 2013, was sent to the UPSC for "selection/appointment of 17 assistant public prosecutors". The government had claimed that the "recruitment will be expedited and made within the shortest possible time".

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