January 15, 2014 3:23:13 am
A month after the Delhi High Court directed the state government to fill vacancies in the prosecutorial ranks and reimburse pending bills, the government has put out an advertisement for 20 vacancies, a step, which prosecutors say, is “worse than nothing”.
The advertisement calls for “retired prosecuting officers” and “lawyers who have worked as Assistant Public Prosecutors (APPs) for two or more years” to apply for 20 vacancies of APPs.
The appointment is on a contract basis for six months.
According to prosecutors, such ad-hoc appointments have backfired in the past. Sources claimed that in 2011-2012, around 12 prosecutors had been appointed as APPs and then deputed for service to the Police Training School. The candidates never joined.
Many prosecutors believe that allowing only retired prosecuting officers or lawyers with prosecutorial experience to apply for the posts will cut down the number of applicants.
“They will not be able to find 20 retired persons… so many will not come,” B S Joon, former director of prosecution, said.
Sources in the directorate of prosecution claimed that a similar experiment had been tried earlier and vacancies could not be filled on those occasions as well.
Data from the directorate reveals that there are 108 assistant public prosecutors in 143 Metropolitan Courts and 60 additional public prosecutors in 65 Sessions courts in the capital.
On January 9, the High Court had created 20 more sessions courts. The Directorate is now short by around 35 APPs and 25 additional public prosecutors.
To fill the lacunae, the government on January advertised 20 posts of APPs. This is in addition to 17 APP posts announced by the UPSC last year. The recruitment process for this has yet to be completed. “If 25 assistant public prosecutors are promoted to additional public prosecutors, it will create a vacuum at the APP level,” Subhash Chauhan, secretary of the Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association, said.
Prosecutors claimed that advertising such posts are a “half-baked” approach to the larger issue. The Prosecutors’ Association had filed a petition in the High Court requesting that vacancies be filled and their bills be reimbursed.
A two-judge bench had directed the government to take “immediate steps” to fill the vacancies and pay the bills.
“While they have issued an advertisement which I believe is not even a baby step towards addressing the issue, there is no word about the compensation yet,” an assistant public prosecutor at a Tis Hazari court said.
According to Chauhan, the issue plaguing prosecutors is aggravated by the fact that a prosecutor at times has to handle cases in two courts.
“Since the directorate does not have a surplus, every time a prosecutor goes on leave, the workload of another prosecutor doubles. This problem is more pronounced in sessions courts which tries offences of a serious nature,” he said.
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