Making a Case for All India Judicial Services
Article 312 in the Indian Constitution provides that if Rajya Sabha passes a resolution with special majority, a new all India services can be created by passing a law. All India Services do include All Indian Judicial Service. The article makes it clear that the all-India judicial service shall not include any post inferior to that of a district judge.
Demand for AIJS: Current Relevance
The demand for establishing an all-India service for judicial officers, on the lines of IAS, is not new. But the recently struck down National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) by Supreme Court has raised the need for creation of an objective and transparent system of appointments in the judiciary system of India. In India, judiciary appoints judiciary through the collegium system, which has been facing lot of criticism because of its lack of objectivity and impartiality. Various Law Commissions (1st, 8th, and 11th) had also suggested for creation of AIJS. Even the Supreme is not averse to the idea. For, in two of its judgments in 1991 and 1993, it had recommended setting up of an all India judicial service. Article 312 of the Constitution also provides for a national level judicial service. In spite of this support, the plan of establishing an all India service for judicial officers is hanging fire for the past five decades.
India can look in to the French model, where the judiciary is operated by a career judicial service. In UK, judges are chosen from the legal service and in US, the judges need not necessarily from legal background. When compared to US and UK, the French model is quite satisfactory.
An independent body like UPSC can conduct an open competition examination for the direct recruitment of judges from the entry level. It ensures the fair selection of incumbents. These entry level AIJS officers can start their career as additional district judges and they can rise up to become high court and Supreme Court judges. This process will attract bright and capable law graduates to the judiciary to take over as judges. The process will ensure equitable service conditions for the subordinate judicial officers. Uniformity in the standards will send only the qualified judges to the high courts. Similarly, the Supreme Court judges can be drawn from the High Courts. This will considerably improve the justice delivery system. Through this system, the objective of inducting outsiders in the high court benches can be achieved better as the members of all India judicial service are ready for interstate transfers. The disciplinary and service matters of AIJS officers can be handled by a separate agency, where the executive has no control.
Why state governments and respective high courts are opposing AIJS?
The main problem cited by the states is that the states have used the powers under the CrPC and CPC to declare that a local language can be used in lower courts even for writing orders. Because of this a person form other state may find it difficult to hold the proceedings in other states and it will affect the quality of justice. The other issue of conflict is that an all India judicial service may hamper the progression of state judicial service officers. The language issue is true but it should not be an argument for straightaway rejecting the idea. Young recruits from outside can easily learn the local language and adapt themselves to local conditions like the Indian Administrative Service officers. After selection the AIJS officers can be provided enough training to handle their job. And the finances involved in the formation of a judicial service do not pose any problem. The amounts collected as court fees, at least, should be spent for this purpose instead of being utilised as a source of general revenue of the States. Only a meritocratic service with a competitive recruitment, high quality uniform training and assured standards of probity and efficiency would be able to ensure speedy and impartial justice in India. At the same time, the central government should provide support to improving judicial infrastructure in the State.