Brief History of All-India Judicial Services
Originally, the Constitution of India didn’t have any provision for the All-India Judicial Services (AIJS), but later Article 235 was introduced which said that the lower judiciary was subordinate to the High Court.
In 1958, the Law Commission (1st, 8th and 11th, 116th) first mooted the idea to formulate an All-India Judicial Services (AIJS).
The Chief Justices Conferences held in 1961, 1963 and 1965 encouraged the creation of an AIJS but the idea was opposed by some High Courts as it took away their powers of recruitment of lower judiciary. The state governments are responsible for the recruitment of the lower judiciary which is either done by the High Courts or the State Public Service Commissions.
In 1976, the Swaran Singh Committee gave its recommendations and according to that Article 312 (which dealt with the All India Services) was modified to include the judicial services except the ones below the rank of a district court judge.
With All-India Judicial Services, the recruitment of the District Court judges would become centralized as the candidates would be selected after clearing the all-India examination and then allotment would be done for each State. It is a matter of debate whether this method of recruitment will prove to be transparent and efficient in finding out the best talent in the legal field in India.
In 2012, the ruling UPA party forwarded the proposal again but it was rejected because of the opposition from the Chief Justices of the High Courts contending that it was a violation of their rights.
Need for All-India Judicial Services
Huge vacancy of judges
At present, there are more than 5000 posts which are vacant in the lower judiciary across India.
Delay in recruitment
There are almost 3 crore cases pending in the lower judiciary and the primary reason for that is the delay in conducting the exams by the states.
Insufficient finances with the state governments
State judicial services do not attract the ‘best talent’ as the state governments fail to provide high salaries, rewards and compensation.
Shortage of quality judicial officers
There has been a continuous decline in the quality of delivery of justice which in turn affects the higher judiciary.
Discretion of a narrow body
The process of selection of a judge is a responsible job, it should not be left at the discretion of a small collegium no matter how judicious it is.
Subjectivity in the process
Currently, the judicial appointments suffer subjectivity, corruption and nepotism on the part of the collegium. Hence, there is an urgent need to establish an impartial system of recruitment so as to reflect the social reality and diversity of the country.
Objections to All-India Judicial Services
Weakens separation of power
According to Article 235, the High Courts have the control over the state judiciary. If the responsibility of recruitment of state judiciary is shifted from High Courts to Union government through AIJS, then the independence of the judiciary would be undermined.
Problem of local language
The District Court and Sessions Court Judges communicate in the State language and it would be difficult for AIJS officers to adapt themselves with the local language and the dialects which in turn would affect the delivery of justice.
Problem of local laws
AIJS fails to take into account the issue of local laws and customs which varies widely across the country. Thus, the training expenses of the selected judges would increase.
Affects only the tip of the iceberg
AIJS does not address the problem of low pay and the lack of inadequate judicial infrastructure including the courts and the training centres for officers in the states. AIJS does not propose any changes for ensuring better representation of district court judges in the High Courts despite the fact that less than one-third of the seats in the High Courts are occupied by the district court judges.
Benefits of All-India Judicial Services
Accountability and Transparency
AIJS will make the judiciary more professional, accountable and equitable.
Recruitment of the best talent
AIJS will ensure that the method of recruitment is transparent and efficient, so that the best talent in the legal profession is attracted. Also the possibility of promotion of the district court judges to the High Courts at an early stage would increase as they currently join the High Courts much later than the judges from the Bar.
Checks pendency of cases
Streamlined and objective recruitment process would ensure regular stream of good quality judicial officers for vacant posts, which would reduce pendency of cases.
A well-organized system of recruitment of the judicial officers will attract the young talent from the law schools and young, well-informed judicial officers at the level of additional district judge will make a difference. As the additional district judges and the district judges can help in making the judicial system work more efficiently.
- AIJS will attract the capable judicial officers which in turn will lead to speedy disposal of cases, ensuring the right decisions which do not lend themselves to appeal and thereby reducing the number of appeals. The quality of lower judiciary is very crucial for rejuvenating the Indian judiciary.
- AIJS is facing obstructions from the administration and the High Courts, even though the Supreme Court has emphasized on the establishment of AIJS twice.
- Therefore, AIJS should be formulated in such a manner that all the shortcomings are taken care of so that it proves to be effective.
- Language should not be a barrier because if the civil servants can learn the local language of the state they are posted in, then the judicial officers can also do that.
- The problem of pay scale and career growth should be looked after.
- After the completion of the selection process, the judicial officers should be provided with good training to handle the job. A proficient judiciary is the need of the hour and it is possible only with a competitive recruitment process.
- Speedy disposal of cases is the concern of all the members of the society. This is possible only if there are adequate judges. Adequate judges can be made available only if the recruitment is done at large through AIJS just like the recruitment of IAS, IPS and other civil services. Hence, the AIJS should come into existence without any delay.