Non-availability of sufficient public prosecutors defeats right to speedy trial, one of the reasons for pendency: Karnataka High Court

10th July, 2021

Non-availability of sufficient public prosecutors defeats right to speedy trial, one of the reasons for pendency: Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court ruled on Friday that the lack of public prosecutors had a direct link to the administration of criminal justice, and ordered the State Government to take immediate efforts to fill all vacant public prosecutors positions in the state. A bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj further stated that one of the causes for the increase in the number of cases pending is a shortage of adequate public prosecutors. "The absence of public prosecutors has a direct link to the administration of the state's criminal justice system. Apart from the fact that delaying a trial infringes on the accused's fundamental rights, a shortage of public prosecutors is one of the many reasons for the lengthening of the case's pendency "In its order, the Court stated. The Court also highlighted that, despite multiple rulings, a considerable number of public prosecutor positions remained empty. "This suo-motu petition was filed in September 2019 when it was discovered that a substantial number of public prosecutor positions in the state were vacant. Despite the fact that multiple orders have been issued in the last 21 months, a considerable number of positions remain empty "The Bench remarked. The State administration had presented the Court with a document depicting the number of prosecutor openings in the state. According to the Court, 168 of the 189 ordinary public prosecutors' positions are filled, while 21 are vacant. Furthermore, 25 of the 28 positions of public prosecutors are on deputation. Only 65 of the 123 positions for Senior Assistant Public Prosecutors were filled, making the situation even worse. Only 5 of the 28 deputation positions of Senior Assistant Public Prosecutors had been filled. Only 151 of the 401 Assistant Public Prosecutors' positions were filled by regular appointees, while 242 were appointed on a contract basis. The Court was informed of an affidavit filed by the Under Secretary of the State Home Department, which stated that the Finance Department has sought to create additional sanctioned posts of 16 Public Prosecutors, 16 Senior Assistant Public Prosecutors, and 184 Assistant Public Prosecutors during the course of the hearing. The Court was also advised that the same thing would be done in a year. The Court stated in this regard, " "There are no restrictions on appointing contract Senior Assistant Public Prosecutors. However, the state will determine if any prohibitory orders are in effect after reviewing the records. If no such prohibition exists, it is self-evident that the state can appoint Senior Assistant Public Prosecutors on a contract basis, subject to the outcome of existing procedures. The process for filling all 254 openings as an assistant public prosecutor must be completed. Only 205 vacancies are being filled through this approach. As a result, we urge the state to begin a process for filling any remaining vacancies."