Need for an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS)

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What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in the News?
  • About All-India Judicial Service
  • Procedure to set-up an All-India Service
  • Arguments in favour of All-India Judicial Service
  • Arguments against setting up an All-India Judicial Service
  • Way Forward
  • News Summary

Why in the News?

  • While delivering the inaugural address at the Supreme Court’s Constitution Day celebrations, President Draupadi Murmu called for the creation of an All-India Judicial Service to recruit judges.

About All-India Judicial Service

  • The idea for All-India Judicial Service was first proposed by the 14th Report of the Law Commission of India in 1958.
  • Under an All-India Judicial Service, district judges can be recruited centrally through an all-India examination and allocated to each State along the lines of the All-India Services such as IAS and IPS.
  • Aim: To ensure a transparent and efficient method of recruitment to attract the best talent in India’s legal profession.
  • Currently, district judges are appointed by the state governor on the advice of chief justice of the high court of the concerned state.

Procedure to set-up an All-India Service

  • 42ndConstitutional Amendment in 1976 had amended Article 312(1) to empower the Parliament to make laws for the creation of one or more All-India Services.
  • Accordingly, under Article 312(1) of the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha is required to pass a resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of its members present and voting.
  • Thereafter, Parliament can by simple majority amend Article 233 and Article 234, to create an AIJS .
  • The recruitment and conditions which are put forward for persons appointed to All India services can be regulated by the Parliament as it enacted the All India Service Act, 1951.
  • It does not require an amendment of the Constitution, under Article 368.

Arguments in favour of All-India Judicial Service

  • Judge-to-Population ratio:
    • The 116th report of the Law Commission had recommended that India should have 50 judges per million population as against 10.50 judges (then).
    • Currently, the figure stands at 21 judges in terms of the sanctioned strength.
    • In comparison, the U.S. and the U.K. have 107 and 51 judges per million people, respectively.
    • As of July 2023, the working strength of the subordinate judiciary was 19,858 against the sanctioned strength of 25,246.
    • It means almost 5,000 posts remain vacant.
  • Pendency of cases:
    • In 2023, the total number of pending cases of all types and at all levels rose above 5 crores. 4.3 crore out of 5 crore cases, i.e. more than 85% cases, are pending in district courts.
    • More than one lakh cases are pending for over 30 years.
    • A 2012 report of the National Court Management Systems projected that the number of cases being filed would reach 15 crore in 30 years, requiring 75,000 judges.
  • Absence of career growth:
    • Currently, less than 25 per cent of the judicial officers have a chance of being elevated as judges of High Courts, with the majority of them managing to reach only the rank of district judges towards the end of their professional careers.
    • The remaining 75 per cent quota is fixed for recruitment of HC judges from the Bar Association of India.
    • Through an AIJS, the High Courts and the Supreme Court will have a better talent pool with a younger age profile to choose from.

Arguments against setting up an All-India Judicial Service

  • In 2019, a report titled ‘A Primer on the All India Judicial Service’ by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy had highlighted important aspects as to why an AIJS is not an ideal solution for the challenges the Indian Judicial System is facing.
  • Judicial Independence of District Judges:
    • Currently, the independence of District Judges from the State Governments, is guaranteed by the fact that the High Court plays a significant role in the appointment, transfer and removal of District Judges.
    • The 116th report of the Law Commission recommended that appointments, postings and promotions to the AIJS be made by a proposed National Judicial Service Commission consisting of retired and sitting judges of the Supreme Courts, members of the bar and legal academics.
    • The creation of such a body will result in the immense concentration of power in few hands.
  • Representation of marginalized communities in the District and Subordinate Judiciary:
    • The report has highlighted that many of the communities who currently benefit from the State quotas, may oppose the creation of AIJS.
    • This is because the communities recognised as Other Backward Classes (OBC) by State governments may or may not be classified as OBCs by the Central government.
    • While AIJS has been proposed as a solution to lack of representation for the marginalised on the Bench, the report said many States are already reserving posts for marginalised communities and women.
  • Language Barrier:
    • An argument made against the creation of an AIJS is that judges recruited through this process will not know the local languages of the States in which they are posted.
    • This becomes important considering that the proceedings of civil and criminal courts are to be conducted in a language prescribed by the respective State governments.

Way Forward

  • Over the period of decades, number of States and High Courts have opposed the idea of establishing an All-India Judicial Service.
  • Hence, before the Parliament establishes an AIJS, there is a need to build a broad consensus between the Centre, States and the Judiciary on the topic.
  • In the meantime, attention should be focused on implementing more direct solutions to address the problems of the Indian judiciary.

News Summary

  • November 26th is observed as Constitution Day to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India by the Constituent Assembly in 1949.
  • While delivering the inaugural address at the Supreme Court’s Constitution Day celebrations, President Draupadi Murmucalled for the creation of an All-India Judicial Service to recruit judges.
  • She said that an All-India Judicial Service will help make the judiciary diverse by increasing representation from marginalised social groups.
    • She spoke on matters including gender and caste representation as well as accessibility to justice.
  • Those who aspire to serve the bench can be selected from across the country to create a larger pool of talent, the President said.
  • The President expressed her desire to support young, talented, and loyal individuals and stated that since there was an all-India examination to become IAS and IPS officers, the same opportunity should be extended to those aspiring to serve in the judiciary.

Q1) What is Appellate Jurisdiction?

Appellate jurisdiction is the power of a higher court to hear appeals from a lower court. The higher court can review decisions and change outcomes of the decisions of lower courts.

Q2) What is Judicial Activism? 

Judicial activism is the exercise of the power of judicial review to set aside government acts. Generally, the phrase is used to identify undesirable exercises of that power, but there is little agreement on which instances are undesirable.

Source: SC Constitution Day celebrations: Murmu calls for an all-India judicial service to recruit judges, says will boost representation  | Print