Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict

President bats for All India Judicial Service (AIJS)  


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: All India Judicial Service (AIJS)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • On Constitution Day, President emphasized the need for an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) to reflect India’s diverse fabric in the judiciary.
  • Designed to streamline the recruitment process for judges, particularly at the levels of additional district judges and district judges across all states, the AIJS concept has been the subject of longstanding debate and contention within legal circles.

All India Judicial Service (AIJS): Overview

  • Objective: To select and nurture talented individuals nationwide, ensuring representation from underrepresented social groups.
  • Current Recruitment: Under Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution, states manage district judge appointments. State Public Service Commissions conduct recruitment, supervised by High Courts.
  • Rationale: AIJS aims to enhance judicial efficiency, standardize compensation, expedite recruitment, and ensure uniform training.

Historical Context

  • 1958: The Law Commission first proposed a centralized judicial service.
  • 1978: The Law Commission revisited the idea amid concerns about delays and case backlogs.
  • 2006: A Parliamentary Committee supported a pan-Indian judicial service, drafting a bill.

Judiciary’s Stance

  • 1992: The Supreme Court directed the Centre to establish AIJS (All India Judges’ Assam vs. Union of India case).
  • 1993: The Court permitted the Centre to initiate AIJS independently.
  • 2017: The Supreme Court suggested a “Central Selection Mechanism” for district judge appointments.

Necessity of AIJS

  • Challenges: The lower judiciary faces about 5400 vacancies and a backlog of 2.78 crore cases.
  • Quality Concerns: The declining quality of judicial officers necessitates high-caliber recruitment.
  • Financial Incentives: State services often fail to attract top talent due to lower salaries.
  • Training and Subjectivity: State-run institutions lack adequate training resources; current appointments are marred by subjectivity and nepotism.

Criticism and Concerns

  • Federalism: AIJS is seen as infringing on states’ powers.
  • Language and Representation: Centralized recruitment might impact the use of regional languages.
  • Equality and Education: A national exam could disadvantage less privileged candidates; law education standards are inconsistent.
  • Structural Issues: AIJS may not address systemic problems like low pay and inadequate infrastructure.
  • Bureaucratization: Centralizing recruitment doesn’t inherently guarantee efficiency.

Government’s Motivation

  • Business Environment: Reforming the lower judiciary is aligned with improving India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.
  • Dispute Resolution: Efficient dispute resolution is crucial for business rankings.
  • IAS Inspiration: The government views the IAS system as a model for enhancing judicial services.

Way Forward

Niti Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @75’ report recommends:

  • Examination: An all-India judicial services exam to maintain high standards.
  • Technology: Implementing video-conferencing to expedite justice and reduce logistical issues.
  • Independence: AIJS cadre should report to the Chief Justice in each High Court to preserve judicial independence.

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