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Lower judiciary and centralised recruitment debate

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    16th Nov, 2021

Context

The central government is preparing to give a fresh push to the establishment of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) on the lines of the central civil services.

About

What is ‘All-Indian Judicial Service’?

  • The AIJS is a reform push to centralize the recruitment of judges.
  • It would work at the level of additional district judges and district judges for all states.
  • This idea has been discussed in legal circles for many years, and remains debatable.
  • In 2006, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in its 15th Report pushed the idea of a pan-Indian judicial service, and made a draft Bill.

Background

  • The proposal for an All-India Judicial Service was first suggested in the early 1960s.
  • While the proposal was revived a few times, including in 2012, it could not be implemented due to opposition from some high courts and states.
  • In December 2019, reported that the government's proposal had received mixed response from various states and high courts.

Who deals with All-India Services?

  • Article 312 of the Indian Constitution, which deals with ‘All-India Services’, says that Parliament may, among other things, provide for the creation of one or more all India services, including an all-India judicial service, common to the Union and the states.
  • Article 312 also lays down that such a service may be created if the Rajya Sabha declares “by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest so to do".

 It adds that no law providing for the creation of AIJS — which “shall not include any post inferior to that of a district judge" — “shall be deemed to be an amendment of this Constitution".

Supreme Court’s View

  • In 1992, the Supreme Court(SC) in All India Judges’ Association v. The Union of India directed the Centre to set up an AIJS.
  • In a 1993 assessment of the judgment, however, the court left the Centre at liberty to take the initiative on the issue.
  • In 2017, the SC took suo motu cognizance of the issue of appointment of district judges, and mooted a Central Selection Mechanism.
  • Based on the merit list, High Courts can hold interviews and recruit judges.

How are district judges currently recruited?

  • The selection process is conducted by the State Public Service Commissionsand the concerned High Court since High Courts exercise jurisdiction over the subordinate judiciary in the state.
  • Panels of High Court judges interview candidates after the exam and select them for an appointment.
  • Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution of India deal with the appointment of district judges, and place it in the domain of the states.
  • All judges of the lower judiciary up to the level of district judge are selected through the Provincial Civil Services (Judicial) exam.

How would AIJS improve the judiciary system?

  • Efficient Judiciary
  • Ease of Doing Business
  • Equal representation of marginalized and underprivileged elements of society in Judiciary
  • Creation of a pool of brilliant individuals
  • Addressing concerns such as corruption and nepotism
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