Lack of Consensus Forces Union Government to Drop All India Judicial Services
EARLIER today, the Union Government informed the Parliament that it has shelved the proposal to bring in an All India Judicial Services (‘AIJS’), which was aimed at the induction of suitably qualified fresh legal talent selected through a proper all-India merit selection system. The Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said there was a lack of consensus on the AIJS among different high courts and state governments.
The Minister was answering a question raised by Member of Parliament Jose K. Mani.
“A comprehensive proposal was formulated for the constitution of an AIJS and the same was approved by the Committee of Secretaries in November 2012. Besides attracting some of the best talent in the country, it may also facilitate inclusion of competent persons from marginalized sections and women in the judiciary. The proposal was included as an agenda item in the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the High Courts held in April, 2013 and it was decided that the issue needs further deliberation and consideration”, the Minister said.
He added that the views of the state governments and high courts were sought on the proposal. There was divergence of opinion among the state governments and among the high courts on the constitution of AIJS. While some state governments and high courts favoured the proposal, others were not in favour of the creation of an AIJS while some others wanted changes in the proposal formulated by the Union Government.
When the Law Minister responded to a similar question in Parliament in December last year, it was revealed that only two states, namely, Harayana and Mizoram, favored the AIJS while eight states, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Punjab opposed it. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Orissa and Uttarakhand sought changes in the proposal. A total of 13 states, namely Gujarat, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Goa, Sikkim, and Tripura did not respond to the proposal.
Rijiju said that the proposal regarding creation of a Judicial Service Commission to help in recruitment to the post of district judges and review of selection process of judges/judicial officers at all levels was included in the agenda for the Chief Justices Conference, which was held on April 3-4 in 2015. It was then resolved to leave it open to the respective high courts to evolve appropriate methods within the existing system to fill up the vacancies for appointment of District Judges expeditiously.
“The proposal for the constitution of All India Judicial Service with views from the High Courts and State Governments received thereon was included in the agenda for the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts held on 05th April, 2015. However, no progress was made on the subject”, the Minister added.
“The proposal of setting up of an All India Judicial service was again discussed on points of eligibility, age, selection criteria, qualification, reservations etc. in a meeting chaired by Minister of Law and Justice on 16th January 2017 in the presence of Minister of State for Law and Justice, Attorney General for India, Solicitor General of India, Secretaries of Department of Justice, Legal affairs and Legislative Department. Setting up AIJS was also deliberated in a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee in March, 2017 and the Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of SCs/STs on 22.02.2021. In view of lack of consensus, at present, there is no proposal to bring All India Judicial Services”, the Minister informed the Rajya Sabha.
In 2017, a Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar had pushed for a centralized selection process to fill the judicial vacancies.
“The instant exercise is only for centralising the selection process, so as to make the recruitment a regular recurring feature, which would result in filling up judicial vacancies at the earliest, through a time bound mechanism. Since the process of selection is proposed to be centralised, it would, if implemented, allow a candidate to apply for more than one States, through a singular selection process”, the bench had said while initiating suo motu proceedings to favour the centralized selection process.
However, some high courts and state governments had opposed it before the Supreme Court. Their key concerns were the dilution of the federal structure, and that the proposal does not address structural issues plaguing the lower judiciary, including low pay and fewer chances of being promoted to the higher judiciary.
Presently, selection to the district and subordinate judiciary is done by the state governments in consultation with the respective high courts with jurisdiction in that state.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.