All India Judicial Service (AIJS)
Nov 10, 2021
All India Judicial Service (AIJS)
Q What is the context ?
A The central government is preparing to give a fresh push to the establishment of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) on the lines of the central civil services.
Q What is All India Judicial Service (AIJS) ?
- The All India Judicial Service (AIJS) is a reform push to centralize the recruitment of judges.
- It would work at the level of additional district judges and district judges for all states.
- In the same way that the UPSC conducts a central recruitment process and assigns successful candidates to cadres, judges of the lower judiciary are proposed to be recruited centrally and assigned to states.
- This idea has been debated in legal circles for decades, and remains contentious.
Beginning of the debate
- The idea of a centralized judicial service was first proposed in the Law Commission 1958 ‘Report on Reforms on Judicial Administration’.
- It was proposed again in the Law Commission Report of 1978, which discussed delays and arrears of cases in the lower courts.
- In 2006, the Parliamentary Standing Committee backed the idea of a pan-Indian judicial service, and also prepared a draft Bill.
Q How are district judges currently recruited?
- Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution of India deal with the appointment of district judges, and place it in the domain of the states.
- The selection process is conducted by the State Public Service Commissions and the concerned High Court since High Courts exercise jurisdiction over the subordinate judiciary in the state.
- Panels of High Court judges interview candidates after the exam and select them for an appointment.
- All judges of the lower judiciary up to the level of district judge are selected through the Provincial Civil Services (Judicial) exam.
Q Why has the AIJS been proposed?
A The idea was to ensure:
- Efficient subordinate judiciary
- Address structural issues such as varying pay and remuneration across states
- Fill vacancies faster
- Ensure standard training across states
Q What is the judiciary’s view on the AIJS?
- 1992: the Supreme Court directed the Centre to set up an AIJS in All India Judges’ Assn. vs Union of India
- 1993: In review of the judgment, the court left the Centre at liberty to take the initiative on the issue.
- 2017: The Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the issue of appointment of district judges, and mooted a “Central Selection Mechanism”.
Q What is the opposition to the AIJS?
- Blow to federalism: AJIS is seen as an affront to federalism and an encroachment on the powers of states granted by the Constitution.
- Language of Business: Language and representation, for example, are key concerns highlighted by states. Judicial business is conducted in regional languages, which could be affected by central recruitment.
- Quotas: Also, reservations based on caste, and even for rural candidates or linguistic minorities in the state, could be diluted in a central test, it has been argued.
- Separation of power: The opposition is also based on the constitutional concept of the separation of powers.
- Not a complete remedy: Additionally, legal experts have argued that the creation of AIJS will not address the structural issues plaguing the lower judiciary.
Q Why is the government seeking to revive the idea of AIJS?
- The government has targeted the reform of the lower judiciary in its effort to improve India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.
- It will act as efficient dispute resolution is one of the key indices in determining the rank.
- AIJS is a step in the direction of ensuring an efficient lower judiciary.
Q What are Centre’s argument for AJIS ?
- The government has cited IAS officers’ examples.
- It has argued that if a central mechanism can work for administrative services IAS officers learn the language required for their cadre it can work for judicial services too.