Judicial Appointments Conundrum Pre-NJAC Verdict

[op-ed snap] No case for an all India judicial service

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Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

Q.) “The proposal to create an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) along the lines of the All India Services (AIS) is one that has been endlessly debated since the idea was first mooted by the Law Commission in the 1950s.” Critically examine.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Article 312

Mains level: It is a vary important topic. Read every article on this topic, very carefully.


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Context

  1. The article is related to the proposal to create an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) along the lines of the All India Services (AIS)
  2. It is in news because the debate has once again started with a fresh move to implement it and nine High Courts expressing their disapproval

Brief outline of the AIJS

  1. District judges will be recruited centrally through an all-India examination and allocated to each State along the lines of the AIS
  2. This will ensure a transparent and efficient method of recruitment to attract the best talent in India’s legal profession

Objection against AIJS

  1. The first objection to this idea is that it does not adequately diagnose the problem
  2. Important Question: What exactly is holding back the smartest and the best from the judiciary?
  3. The answer lies in the fact that the Bar Council of India has mismanaged legal education
  4. Almost no effort has gone into improving the standard of legal education across the country

Why are best talents in law field not joining Judicial Services?

  1. The judiciary offers very unremunerative pay and limited avenues for career advancement
  2. While a lot of effort has been undertaken by the Supreme Court to ensure uniformity in pay scales across States through its orders in the All India Judges’ Association case
  3. But still it is very low when compared to that in the private sector, notably law firms, litigation and the corporate sector
  4. A civil judge (junior division), and the lowest entry level post, can expect a basic pay of Rs. 27,700 per month.
  5. Top graduates can expect to earn at least three times as much in Indian law firms in equivalent entry level positions
  6. Lower pay would also be acceptable, if the position was accompanied by a defined career progression
  7. According to a study published in the Economic and Political Weekly in 2016, less than a third of seats in the High Courts are filled by judges from the district cadre

Issues with ‘National Exam’

  1. It may end up not taking into account local laws, practices and customs
  2. These points vary widely across States, and this will increase the costs of training for judges selected through the mechanism

The way forward

  1. The problems of the Indian judiciary at all levels have reached catastrophic levels
  2. The public is losing confidence in the judiciary
  3. None of the problems related to judiciary will be solved to any degree by centralising the manner of recruitment of judges
  4. This matter should be treated expeditiously
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