Govt drafts All India Judicial Services plan
A lawyer with seven-year practice or someone engaged in teaching at a recognised law college or university for the same time would qualify to take the exam, according tothe proposed outline. A candidate is expected to be aged between 28 and 35 to be eligible for the test.
The government has prepared an outline of the proposed All India Judicial Services (AIJS) as it plans to engage the judiciary to assuage the latter’s concern that the new selection mechanism will dilute the institution’s authority in selecting judges for state judicial services, officials aware of the matter said.
The outline includes the procedure and career progression of those who qualify an entrance exam to join the AIJS. A lawyer with seven-year practice or someone engaged in teaching at a recognised law college or university for the same time would qualify to take the exam, according tothe proposed outline. A candidate is expected to be aged between 28 and 35 to be eligible for the test.
The officials cited above said the AIJS is meant to induct district-level judges. A certain percentage of inductions will be reserved for civil judges, who will thereby be provided an opportunity to improve their career prospects, they added. States and respective high courts will be responsible for hiring the remaining civil judges, the officials said.
The subordinate judiciary has two tiers and involves civil judges or magistrates and district judges. Even serving civil judges can take the exam to qualify for the AIJS provided they have served for the required number of years. There could be an age limit for such candidates too, said one of the officials. There will also be age limit relaxation for members of Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes apart from 25% reservation for them, the officials said.
“The new proposal [outline] is an improvement over the old one with nuanced modifications as would be appropriate to maintain the independence of the judiciary. It will fast track career progression and provide a possibility for working both at the HC [high court] and federal level. The AIJS will have a foolproof examination process,” said the official cited above on condition of anonymity.
HT in December reported the Chief Justice of India would nominate a Supreme Court judge to head an oversight committee to provide guidance regarding the pattern of the AIJS entrance examination and syllabus.
The panel will have representation from high courts and include eminent legal academicians. A Union Public Service Commission (UPCS) representative will also be one of its members. “The AIJS is a selection process. The UPSC the executing agency and HCs [high courts] and the SC [Supreme Court] the appointing authorities,” said a second official.
The government in June wrote to the states seeking their view on the AIJS. It set the ball rolling for the central exam for the lower judiciary. The government proposes to create the Indian Administrative Service-like judicial service and wants to engage the UPSC to conduct the exam.
The Law Commission of India mooted the AIJS in 1958 after which it was added to Article 312 of the Constitution through the 42nd amendment in 1976.
A committee of secretaries backed the Common Entrance exam in November 2012. But 13 states and 18 high courts either opposed AIJS or sought changes.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has advocated the need for the AIJS particularly to attract talent from universities offering five-year law courses and to fill up the burgeoning vacancies in the lower judiciary, where 5,000 posts remain vacant.
The AIJS entrance exam will be held at the zonal levels—North, South, East, West, and Central—so that judges are posted closer to the places they belong to. The second official cited above said two-year training for candidates, who clear the entrance exam, would include language training as well.
Senior Supreme Court advocate Vijay Hansaria said the AIJS is not feasible at the federal structure especially since states use different languages of the law. “A judge holding court needs to know the local language because he or she is required to record evidence in the same, a job that cannot be delegated to someone else...” High courts currently hold entrance tests for trial court judges. There is no uniform system for such recruitment.