President Murmu advocates for All India Judicial Service

Why in news:

All India Judicial Services seeks to centralise the recruitment of judges at the level of additional district judges and district judges for all states. This is similar to how the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts a central recruitment examination.


All India Judicial Service:

  • Article 312 of the Constitution provides for the establishment of an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS), along the lines of the central civil services.
  • If the Rajya Sabha declares through a resolution, supported by at least two-thirds of its present and voting members, that it is necessary or expedient to create a service in “national interest”.
  • The Parliament “may by law provide for the creation of one or more all India services (including an all India judicial service) common to the Union and the States” and regulate the recruitment and service conditions of persons appointed to any such service.
  • However, Article 312 (2) states that the AIJS cannot include any post inferior to that of a district judge, as defined in Article 236.
  • A district judge can include a city civil court judge, additional district judge, joint district judge, assistant district judge, chief judge of a small cause court, chief presidency magistrate, additional chief presidency magistrate, session’s judge, additional sessions judge, and assistant sessions judge.
  • Essentially, the AIJS seeks to centralize the recruitment of judges at the level of additional district judges and district judges for all states.
  • Just as the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts a central recruitment process and assigns successful candidates to cadres.
  • The recruitment of judges of the lower judiciary is being proposed to be made central, following which they’ll be assigned to states.

Present system of selection:

  • 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.
  • The State Public Service Commissions and the concerned High Court conduct the selection process.
  • Panels of HC judges interview candidates after the exam and select them for appointment.
  • All judges of the lower judiciary up to the level of district judges are selected through the Provincial Civil Services (Judicial) exam.

Reason behind the proposal of AIJS:

  • The idea of a centralized judicial service was first deliberated in the Law Commission’s 1958 ‘Report on Reforms on Judicial Administration’.
  • It was to ensure an efficient subordinate judiciary to address structural issues such as varying pay and remuneration across states, filling vacancies faster, and ensuring standard training nationwide.
  • A statutory or constitutional body such as the UPSC to conduct a standard, centralized exam to recruit and train judges was discussed.
  • The idea was proposed again in the Law Commission Report of 1978, which discussed delays and arrears of cases in the lower courts.
  • In 2006, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice, in its 15th Report, supported the idea of a pan-Indian judicial service and also prepared a draft bill.

Supreme Court ruling on AIJS:

  • In 1992, the SC in ‘All India Judges’ Association (1) v. UOI’ directed the Centre to set up an AIJS.
  • However, in a 1993 review of the judgement, the court left the Centre at liberty to take initiatives on the issue.
  • In 2017, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the issue of appointment of district judges and mooted a “Central Selection Mechanism”.
  • Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who was the amicus curiae in the matter, circulated a concept note to all states that recommended.
  • Conducting a common examination instead of separate state exams.
  • Based on the merit list, HCs would then hold interviews and appoint judges.
  • Datar submitted that this would not change the constitutional framework or take away the powers of states or HCs.

The reason behind non implementation of AIJS:

  • The Centre took various steps towards the constitution of the AIJS, such as coming up with a “comprehensive proposal”, which was approved by the Committee of Secretaries in November 2012.
  • In April 2013, this proposal was included as an agenda item in the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the High Court.
  • However, it was agreed upon that the issue needs further deliberation. Subsequently, the views of state governments and HCs were sought on the proposal, but no consensus could be reached.
  • In April 2015, the creation of AIJS to help with the recruitment for the post of district judges and the review of the selection process of judges and judicial officers at all levels were included in the agenda for the Chief Justices Conference.
  • However, ultimately, it was decided that the respective HCs would evolve appropriate methods within the existing system to fill up the vacancies for appointing district judges.
  • In January 2017, aspects of AISJ, like eligibility, age, selection criteria, qualification, and reservation, were discussed in a meeting chaired by the Minister of Law and Justice, with participation from India’s Attorney General, Solicitor General, and DoJ secretaries. However, the proposal failed to reach the stage of implementation.
  • Recently, when asked about AIJS’s implementation in the Lok Sabha, former Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said that owing to diverging opinions amongst the major stakeholders, “there is no consensus on the proposal for setting up an All India Judicial Service right now.”

Subject: Polity

Topic: Judiciary and tribunals.

Issues: All India Judicial Service.

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