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All India Judicial Service, History, Benefits, Provisions and Needs

Context: The President of India recently suggested that the creation of an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) will help diversify the judiciary.

All India Judicial Service (AIJS)

The All India Judicial Service (AIJS) is a proposed judicial service in India. It is intended to centralize the recruitment of judges for the district and additional district courts in all states and Union Territories of India.

The All India Judicial Service is an initiative to centralise the appointment of district judges for all states and additional district judges at the level of the judiciary. Judges of the lower judiciary are planned to be recruited centrally and allocated to states, similar to how the Union Public Service Commission performs a national recruiting procedure and places successful individuals in cadres.

All India Judicial Service which is covered in this article is covered in the Indian Polity and Governance of UPSC Syllabus. Students can also go for the UPSC Mock Test to get more accuracy in their preparations.

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All India Judicial Service History

In its original version, the Indian Constitution did not contain any provisions about the AIJS, but the Drafting Committee eventually produced Article 235, which places the lower judiciary under the supervision of the High Court. In 1958, the Law Commission of India originally floated the concept of establishing AIJS.

The judicial services were added to Article 312 (which deals with the development of the All India Services (AIS)) after the Swaran Singh Committee’s recommendations in 1976, however anyone with a lower rank than the district judge was still not included.

The idea of an All India Judicial Service was supported at the Chief Justice Conferences in 1961, 1963, and 1965, but it had to be dropped when some States and High Courts objected since it would have taken away their authority to hire lower-level judges. State governments are responsible for hiring for lesser judicial positions; in some states, this is done by state High Courts, while in others, it is done by state Public Service Commissions.

Timeline of All India Judicial Service

Year AIJS Recommendations SC’s Stand on AIJS Centre’s Action
1958 Law Commission proposed a ‘Centralised Judicial Service’. ** **
1978 Law Commission reiterated the idea of AIJS to address case backlogs and judicial appointment delays. ** **
1992 ** Supreme Court directed the Centre to establish AIJS (All India Judges Association vs Union of India). **
1993 ** Supreme Court authorised the Centre to independently initiate the creation of AIJS. **
2006 Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice advocated for a pan-Indian judicial service and drafted a bill. ** **
2012 ** ** Centre proposed a “comprehensive proposal for AIJS”, endorsed by the Committee of Secretaries.
2013 ** ** AIJS was included in the agenda of the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the High Court, but no consensus was reached.
2017 ** Supreme Court proposed a “Central Selection Mechanism” for appointing District Judges. AIJS discussed in the Chief Justices Conference; decision to allow High Courts to devise methods to appoint district judges within the existing system.

Also Read: National Legal Services Authority

View of Judiciary on All India Judicial Service

In the 1991 case of Union of India v. All India Judges’ Association (1), the Supreme Court ordered the Centre to establish an AIJS.  However, the court freed the Centre to take the lead on the matter in a 1993 review of the ruling.

In 2017, the Supreme Court proposed a “Central Selection Mechanism” to address the issue of district judge appointments. The court selected senior attorney Arvind Datar as an amicus curiae, and he sent a concept note to all the states recommending a common exam rather than separate state exams. High Courts would then conduct interviews and appoint judges based on the merit list.

Also Read: Lok Adalat

All India Judicial Service and Objections Implemented

The independence of the judiciary would be compromised if the Union government gained control of the state courts through AIJS by abolishing the High Court, as now allowed by Article 235. With the exception of a few National Law Universities, law school curricula lack effective standards, which lead to poor-quality legal research and academics. This issue is not addressed by AIJS.

Concerning the level to which postings should be included in the Indian Judicial Service, there is a lack of agreement and uncertainty. AIJS officers would find it difficult to become accustomed to the local language, which would impede the administration of justice in courts where business is conducted in the state language up to the District and Sessions Judge Level. If officers at senior levels are taken through AIJS, avenues for promotion for those who had already entered through the state services would be limited, which will have an impact on the staffing of the State Judicial Service.

A “national exam” could prevent people from less affluent backgrounds from joining the legal profession. The issue of disproportionately low compensation, the absence of proper judicial infrastructure (including courts or training for officers) in the states, or the lack of career advancement is not addressed by AIJS.

Less than one-third of seats in the High Courts are held by judges from the district cadre, despite the fact that the first two are the responsibility of State governments and the latter is the responsibility of the judiciary. Despite this, no adjustments have been made to ensure better district judge representation in the High Courts. The issue of local laws, practices, and customs that differ greatly between States is ignored by AIJS, which raises the price of training judges chosen by the method.

Constitutional Framework For All India Judicial Service

  • Article 312: Amended by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, it allows for the creation of AIJS upon the Rajya Sabha passing a resolution with a two-thirds majority of those present and voting, if it’s deemed necessary for the national interest.
  • Article 312 (3): Specifies that AIJS positions must be at or above the level of district judge, as outlined in Article 236. This encompasses various judicial roles, including district judge, sessions judge, and their assistants and deputies.

Existing Judicial Recruitment Process

  • District Judges (Article 233): Appointment is made by the state’s Governor based on consultations with the High Court of the respective state.
  • Subordinate Judicial Officers (Article 234): Recruitment for positions below district judge is done by the state’s Governor, following rules established in consultation with the State Public Service Commission and the High Court.

Benefits of the Existing System

  • Promotes Diversity: Current recruitment methods through High Courts and public service commissions better accommodate diversity, including reservations, and align with local practices.
  • Practical Experience Preference: Lawyers often opt for judicial service based on practical experience. The current system is seen as more accommodating to this approach.

Necessity for All India Judicial Service

  • Addressing Judge Shortages and Recruitment Delays: The lower judiciary faces significant vacancies and a backlog of approximately 2.78 crore cases, largely due to delays in conducting regular judicial recruitment exams.
  • Improving Judicial Officer Quality: The current recruitment system’s declining standards have led to delayed justice, case backlogs, and poorer judgement quality, impacting the higher judiciary’s competence.
  • Financial Constraints in State Services: State judicial services often fail to attract top talent due to lower salaries and benefits offered by state governments.
  • Upgrading Training Facilities: Effective adjudication requires advanced training institutions, which state institutes currently lack.
  • Eliminating Recruitment Biases: The existing judicial appointments process is marred by subjectivity, corruption, and nepotism, necessitating a fair and diverse recruitment system.

Advantages of All India Judicial Service

  • Bringing in New Talent: AIJS promises a more transparent and efficient recruitment method, making judicial posts appealing to young legal professionals.
  • Enhanced Recruitment Integrity: A competitive examination process would ensure more accountable, transparent, and objective judiciary recruitment, minimising selection panel discretion.
  • Diverse Judicial Representation: AIJS would promote inclusivity by recruiting trained officers from underrepresented groups, including women and SC/ST communities.
  • Improving Judge-to-Population Ratio: With only about 19 judges per 10 lakh people in India, AIJS aims to expedite vacancy filling and increase recruitment in the lower judiciary, approaching the recommended ratio of 50 judges per 10 lakh population.
  • Uniformity in Justice Delivery: AIJS would standardise the quality of adjudication and justice across the country, ironing out state-level legal disparities.

Challenges with Centralization of Judicial Service

  • Constitutional Hurdles: Implementing a centralised judicial service would require overriding state-specific rules, potentially conflicting with the Constitution’s recognition of states’ authority over their subordinate judiciary.
  • Federal Structure Concerns: Many states may resist centralization, viewing it as an encroachment on their jurisdiction, thereby potentially weakening the federal structure.
  • Lack of Uniform Agreement: The proposal lacks widespread support, with only two High Courts in favour and 13 opposed. Disagreements persist over eligibility, age, selection criteria, qualifications, and reservations.
  • Language Barrier Issues: The challenge of linguistic diversity, particularly in lower courts where local languages are predominant, raises questions about the feasibility of judges from one region effectively serving in another.

All India Judicial Service Criticism

A centralised hiring procedure is viewed as a violation of federalism and an encroachment on the constitutionally granted powers of the states.  This is the main argument made by a number of states, who have also claimed that central recruitment cannot address the particular issues that various states may have. For instance, language and representation are important issues that governments have raised. Regional languages are used for judicial transactions, therefore central recruiting may have an impact.

Additionally, a central test could diminish caste-based preferences, especially for candidates from rural areas or from the state’s linguistic minorities. The separation of powers principle found in the constitution also forms the basis of the opposition. A centralized test could reduce the influence that the High Courts have in the selection of district judges and allow the executive a foot in the door.

The structural problems that plague the lower judiciary will not be resolved by the establishment of AIJS. In the 1993 All India Judges Association case, the SC addressed the issue of disparate pay and payment scales by establishing uniformity across states. Increasing remuneration for everyone and making sure that certain High Court justices are chosen from the lower judiciary, according to experts, may help attract qualified candidates better than a centralized exam.

Way Forward for AIJS

  • Addressing Judicial Vacancies: AIJS is proposed as a solution to the persistent issue of unfilled judicial positions.
  • Enhancing Bench Diversity: It aims to improve representation of marginalised groups within the judiciary.
  • Attracting Quality Candidates: The service is envisioned to draw the best legal talents, akin to other prestigious civil services.
  • Structural Design Needs: For AIJS to be effective, it must be meticulously designed to overcome potential shortcomings.
  • Large-Scale Recruitment: Similar to civil services like IAS, IPS, and IFS, recruiting judges in significant numbers through AIJS could effectively reduce the current shortage in the judiciary.

All India Judicial Service UPSC

The construction of a recruitment mechanism that attracts effective judges in large numbers is required due to the overwhelming volume of cases that need to be resolved. Building consensus and taking meaningful action in the direction of the AIJS are necessary before the AIJS enters the legislative framework, nevertheless. Students can read all the details related to UPSC by visiting the official website of StudyIQ UPSC Online Coaching.

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All India Judicial Service FAQs

What is the age for All India Judicial Service?

The lower age limit is 22 years, and the upper age limit is 35 years.

What are the benefits of all India judicial service?

It will ensure an efficient subordinate judiciary, to address structural issues such as varying pay and remuneration across states, to fill vacancies faster, and to ensure standard training across states.

Which is better judiciary or IAS?

Judges have judicial powers and IAS have executive powers.

Who is the youngest person to clear judiciary exam?

Meet Mayank Pratap Singh, the youngest judge of India who has created history by cracking the Rajasthan Judiciary Services Examination at the age of 21.

What is the highest age of judge?

When the Constitution was adopted and enforced in 1950, the age of the retirement of the judges of the High Court’s was fixed at 60. However, it was raised to 62 in 1963 according to the 15th amendment of the Constitution.

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