The Supreme Court on Thursday took another step towards digitizing the judiciary by seeking a concept note from a lawyer for setting up an online portal that will contain real-time information about vacancies in district judiciary and judicial infrastructure across the country.

The matter came up for consideration before a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud which was hearing a batch of pleas including one suo motu (on its own) on the issue of filling up of vacancies in district judiciary and lack of infrastructure in lower courts in the country.

The bench, also comprising Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala, asked Advocate K Parmeshwar to submit a concept note so a web portal can be set up where all relevant information can be uploaded by the high courts and the law secretaries of states on the vacancies, appointments and infrastructure, including manpower, real time.

"I will speak to the Secretary General (of the apex court) to have an online portal. We can even do it through the E-Committee. Mr Parmeshwar, please make a note on this and give it to the Secretary General," the CJI said.

On filling up of vacancies, it said all the states were divided into four categories and the matter will be heard by taking inputs of amicus curiae assigned to each high court on specific days.

The bench said it will ask the Registrars General of the high courts and the law secretaries of states to give updated status reports to respective amicus curiae (friend of court) who, in turn, will compile the information and file them before it.

"We will ask them to give updated status reports within two weeks. We can include registrars and law secretaries also," the bench said.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, who is assisting the bench as one of the four amicus curiae, said he has filed a status report with regard to the high courts of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Patna and Punjab and Haryana dealing with the vacancies and infrastructure in the district courts of these states.

The bench asked another Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan, who is also assisting the court as an amicus curiae, to advance his submissions on February 9 with respect to the high courts of Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

The registrars of these high courts have been asked to furnish an updated position in respect of vacancies and infrastructure in the district judiciary.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, another amicus curiae appointed by the Apex Court, will advance his submissions after these two lawyers with regard to vacancies and infrastructure in courts under the jurisdiction of the high courts of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, and North-Eastern states on January 27.

The fourth amicus curiae, Gaurav Agrawal, will put forth his submissions with regard to the high courts of Rajasthan, Sikkim, and Telangana on February 18.

Earlier in 2018, a bench headed by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi had taken suo motu cognizance of huge vacancy of over 5,000 judicial officers then existing in district courts and sought responses from all the high courts and states.

The bench had appointed four lawyers as amicus curiae to assist it and directed all 24 high courts and 36 states and UTs to apprise it of vacancies and the time frame for filling the positions.

With PTI Inputs