Photo Courtesy: The Indian Express.

States, HCs divided over all-India service to recruit judges for the lower judiciary, says Law Minister

EIGHT states are not in favour of setting up an all-India judicial service on the lines of other all-India services to recruit members of the subordinate judiciary, while only two have supported the idea so far, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informed Lok Sabha on Friday. Five states want changes in the proposal while a response is awaited from thirteen states, he disclosed.
As far as High Courts are concerned, two are in favour of the constitution of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS), thirteen are not in favour, six want changes in the proposal and two are yet to give their responses,” Rijiju said in a written reply to a question.
The views of state governments and high courts were sought on the proposal,” he said.
In the government’s view, a properly framed All India Judicial Service is important to strengthen the overall justice delivery system. This will give an opportunity for induction of suitably qualified fresh legal talent selected through a proper all-India merit selection system as well as address the issue of social inclusion by enabling suitable representation to marginalized and deprived sections of society,” he said.
The Law Minister had called a meeting of state Law Ministers last month to discuss the AIJS and issues related to infrastructure in the subordinate judiciary. Under the AIJS, judges of subordinate judiciary are proposed to be recruited centrally and assigned to the states. Under Article 233 (1), appointments of persons to be, and the posting and promotion of, district judges in any state shall be made by the Governor of the state in consultation with the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to such state. Under Article 234, appointment of persons other than district judges to the judicial service of a state shall be made by the Governor of the state in accordance with the rules made by him in that behalf after consultation with the State Public Service Commission and with the High Court  exercising jurisdiction in relation to such state.
At present, the State Public Service Commissions conduct the competitive examinations for recruitment to the subordinate judiciary, and those who qualify are interviewed by a panel of High Court judges, before their appointment.
Both the Centre and the Supreme Court support the idea of an AIJS because it is believed that it would help standardise training and enable the filling up of vacancies in time. It is contended that even if there is all-India merit list after the common examination, the High Courts could still hold interviews and select candidates for appointment, on the basis of the merit list. State governments, however, apprehend that the move will erode states’ powers in a federal set-up.
(with PTI inputs)