The Supreme Court today advised patience to litigants seeking urgent listing of pleas pertaining to filling up of vacancies in various tribunals across the country.

A Bench comprising of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice A S Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli said that it would take up the pleas on the issue on February 23 and has already asked Attorney General K K Venugopal to be ready to assist it.

"In PIL matters also, you create a great fuss. Can we call the government today and send him to jail. Please have some patience, we are taking up the matter," said the Chief Justice of India (CJI) when a lawyer insisted for grant of early hearing of his plea.

"We are taking up the matter. Yesterday, we had called the attorney general and we would be taking it up on February 23," the Bench said.

Few pleas pertaining to the vacancies and members of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) were mentioned on Thursday for urgent hearing.

The Court, while hearing another case on Wednesday, rued the "knee jerk" actions in filling up vacant posts in tribunals, saying the bureaucracy has been taking up the issue "lightly".

The Bench headed by the CJI, which has been proactively dealing with the issue of huge vacancies in various tribunals across the country, had said that after a few appointments made initially, nothing substantial happened.

"We are getting (pleas for) extension of time for the members of the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) ...Some knee-jerk appointments took place and nothing happened after that. We do not know the fate of members and many are retiring. Bureaucracy is taking it (the issue) lightly," the CJI observed.

Venugopal, who has been assisting the bench in dealing with the vacancies related matters, attempted to show the list of vacancies and the steps taken to fill them up.

The Bench had said that it would hear the issue after two weeks.

The Court has been asking the Centre to make appointments in tribunals that are facing a severe crunch of presiding officers as well as judicial and technical members.

As per data made available in a hearing in August last year, around 250 posts are lying vacant in various key tribunals and appellate tribunals across the country.

The Centre, in its affidavit filed in September 2021, had submitted that it has made 84 appointments in six tribunals including ITAT and NCLT and no recommendations of the Search cum Selection Committees (SCSC) is pending with it then.

The Centre had also given the chart containing details of appointments made in Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Telecom Disputes and Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) and Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).

"In all, a total of 84 appointments were made to various tribunals during the years 2020 and 2021," the affidavit had said.

With PTI inputs