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Merits of an all India judicial service

R.D. SHARMA

THE CENTRE is contemplating creation of an all India judicial service (AIJS) on the pattern of the All India Civil Services. In its 15th report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice has recommended its creation and directed the Law Ministry to take immediate steps for setting up such a service.

As of now, while most government departments have all India service recruits, selected after an all India competitive examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission every year, the judiciary is the only set-up that does not have an all India selection process.

Incidentally, the proposal for having an AIJS is not new and draws its support from the reports of the first, eighth and 11th law commissions. Even the Supreme Court 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 all this, the proposal did not get far in the process of concretisation and has been hanging fire for over four decades now.

Advantages

If implemented, the scheme will have its own advantages. Primarily, the direct recruitment of judges from the entry level will be handled by an independent and impartial agency through an open competition thereby ensuring fair selection of incumbents. It would naturally help attract bright and capable young law graduates to the judiciary to take over as judges. For subordinate judicial officers it would ensure equitable service conditions besides providing them a wider field to prove their mettle.

In this scheme of things, the measure of uniformity in the standards for selection will improve the quality of personnel in different High Courts, as one-third of the judges come there on promotion from the subordinate courts. Similarly, judges of the Supreme Court are drawn from the High Courts. In this process only persons of proven competence will preside over the benches of superior courts. Simultaneously, the quality of dispensation of justice will also improve considerably right from the bottom to the top.

In addition, the objective of inducting an outside element in High Court benches can be achieved better and without any problem because a member of an all India judicial service will have no mental block about interstate transfers.

However, critics of this feature may say that a district judge coming from a different linguistic region will face the problem of language in assessing and tackling the critical legal and other issues of facts, which will affect the quality of justice. True, language may be a problem but that 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 unlike older people.

Nor should the finances involved in the formation of such a judicial service pose any problem. In fact, 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. According to an agency report, figures from the Ministry of Law and Justice show that the income generated from court fees is more than the expenditure incurred on the administration of justice.

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