Vacancies: job left undone

Sloppy Governance

With over 3.3 crore cases pending in courts all over the country, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi came up with a “No Leave” order for all judges during the working days of the courts. While this order won much admiration for the CJI, litigants heaved a sigh of relief that things would get moving. It goes to his credit that he is serious about getting the vacancies filled in the subordinate courts.

With 5,950 vacancies of judges in the subordinate courts, small wonder that cases go on for years, causing mental agony to the litigants. The vacancies in the high courts have been particularly dismal. From just 267 vacancies in 2014, the figures rose to 346 in 2015 and 464 in 2016. Although it declined to 387 last year, against 1,079 sanctioned posts, it bounced to 427 this year. High courts are laden with 43 lakh cases and, on an average, 80 judges retire every year. If these posts aren’t speedily filled up, things will take a turn for the worse.

The situation is no better in police forces. Entrusted with maintaining law and order, police forces in the states have 5.4 lakh vacancies while paramilitary forces need another 61,000 personnel to match up to their sanctioned strength. Uttar Pradesh Police is deficient of 56,808 personnel for normal policing while the dismal traffic management in the state can be directly attributed to 41,250 vacancies. Karnataka Police is set to recruit 31,694 policemen. While Rajasthan Police is short of 13,227 personnel for effective traffic management, Karnataka lacks 2,700 personnel and Kerala and Maharashtra need 1,300 and 3,000 policemen, respectively, in their traffic outfits. Delhi Traffic Police has 439 vacancies.

If the justice delivery system is tardy, to some degree, the responsibility stands apportioned to the investigative mechanism of the police and the Forensic Science Laboratories on which the former bank heavily for irrefutable evidence. The Supreme Court came down heavily on the Centre and the states recently for vacancies in the 38 Forensic Science Laboratories in the country. The vacancy rate is 46% of the sanctioned strength in these laboratories.

The Central Reserve Police Force, which has been entrusted with the onerous responsibility of internal security duties in the country, needs 18,640 personnel to make up its sanctioned strength while the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Border Security Force have vacancies of 18,942 and 10,738 personnel, respectively. With 3,812 vacant posts in the Central Industrial Security Force, which is performing the highly sensitive duty of guarding the airports, the urgency and importance of filling up these posts hardly needs emphasis.

In the healthcare sector, the country has over 1.5 lakh vacancies in medical and paramedical staff, depriving millions of our citizens of the medical care they badly need. One of the poorest states, Odisha, needs 3,800 more doctors to reach the remote areas of the
state. The elite All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi would be better placed to provide better and speedy services if its 22,000 vacant posts of doctors and paramedical staff were filled up.

Over two lakh posts of Anganwadi workers across the country are vacant, with Bihar topping with 53,000 vacant posts. As many as 2.4 lakh vacant posts in Railways has retarded its progress and hindered it from achieving top efficiency. Our defence forces, too, suffer from the malady of huge vacancies. 62,000 vacancies exist in various ranks in the three services. While the Army has a shortage of 7,298 officers, the Navy and Air Force are short of 1,606 and 192 officers, respectively.

The Civil Services are short of 1,449 IAS officers, 970 IPS officers and have over 400 vacancies at the level of directors
and deputy secretaries. Uttar Pradesh is short of the sanctioned strength of IAS officers by 110, while Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir have 107, 94 and 53 vacancies, respectively.

The education sector has over 10 lakh vacancies of teachers in government schools, largely at the primary level. In the universities, there are as many as 700 vacancies of lecturers. Himachal Pradesh University has 131 teaching posts vacant and 50 non-teaching vacancies. The prestigious IITs, too, are short of faculty. While overall vacancies in eight major IITs is 36%, the worst affected is IIT, Varanasi, which has an overall 52% shortage of faculty. Delhi University has just 896 lecturers against 1,706 sanctioned.

Affecting governance

Apart from these large-scale vacancies, the present dispensation has shown an insouciant attitude in filling up vacancies in various other departments and commissions, which has adversely affected their functioning and, thereby, governance. The Central Information Commission (CIC) and the State Information Commissions in several states do not have the full complement of Information Commissioners (ICs). The CIC till recently functioned with just three ICs against sanctioned posts of a Chief Information Commissioner and ten ICs.

Ironically, while there are over 24 lakh such vacancies in the central and state governments, the unemployment rate continues to be on the ascent. From 3.39% rate of unemployment in July 2017, it had risen to 6.23% in March 2018. Perhaps this is in keeping with the “minimum government, maximum governance” slogan on which the Modi government came to power. Unfortunately, though, not all unemployed are willing to become “pakorawallahs” as the prime minister once suggested. The lure of government jobs can be gauged from the fact that over seven lakh applied for 3,275 posts of safai karamcharis in the Kanpur Municipal Corporation early last year. Of these, five lakh were graduates and post-graduates.

It is high time the governments at the Centre and the states took serious note of the fact that good governance warrants efficient and effective functioning of various ministries, departments, courts and commissions, which is possible only with full complements of staff. Immediate steps must be taken to fill up all vacancies at the Centre and in the states to reverse the rising unemployment graph.

(The writer is retired IGP, CRPF)

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