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Aijs: Perfect 10 Or Feet Of Clay?

Judiciary, as derived from the Latin term judiciaries, refers to that branch of the government that holds judicial power. It is the collection of all the courts of law and the judges who preside over these courts, along with the officers of the courts. The significance of the judiciary lies in its primary aim of delivering justice to the people through the interpretation and application of laws, protections of rights, resolving disputes and aiding the government in the interpretation of the constitution. Judiciary is the guardian of the Rule of Law, thus finally acting as the guardian of the Constitution, i.e., the Supreme Law of the land.

Judiciary works through the judges of various courts, who are appointed through the judicial examinations, which are conducted by each state individually and independently. Recently, a proposal has been put forth for the AIJS, i.e., The All India Judicial Services exam, which has been discussed in the following sections of the blog.

What Is The Current System?
The position of judge is the most distinguished and reputed post in the Indian Legal system. The candidates who get appointed as judges, by undergoing Judicial Services Examination, enjoy various facilities such as a healthy income, secure tenure, esteem in society and several other prerogatives.

There are two ways in which a person can become a Judge, the first one being the Lower Judicial Services, which allows fresh graduates to become judges by appearing in an entrance examination. The Entrance Exam conducted has a different story for each state. In some of the states such as that of UP, MP and Rajasthan, the entrance exam is conducted by the State Public Service Commission of the concerned states.

Whereas in Delhi it is conducted by the High Court. Entry through this way ensures time-bound promotion. Candidates appointed as Civil Judges (Junior Division) have the power of Judicial Magistrate (Second Class) and those promoted to Chief Judicial Magistrate have the power of Judicial Magistrate (First Class).

To be eligible for appearing for the lower judiciary, the candidate has to be an LLB degree holder and should be enrolled as an Advocate under the Advocates Act 1961 along with a membership of the State Bar Council. Also, the candidate should be between the age of 21 to 35 years.

The second pathway is the Higher Judicial Services which gives a way to practicing lawyers to enter judgeship. The selected applicants get appointed as Additional District Judges, and promotion through this method is way faster and there is a higher chance of elevation to the High Court and even the Hon'ble Supreme Court in some exceptional cases.

To be eligible for appearing for the higher judiciary the candidate must be an LLB degree holder from a recognized institution. Also, the candidate must have a minimum of seven years of practice as an advocate. The candidate should have completed the age of 35 years. The candidate needs to be a citizen of India to appear for either of the examinations.

The judicial Service Examination is held in three successive stages namely Preliminary Examination, Mains and Viva-Voce/Interview.

First stage is the preliminary examination, which is an objective type exam whose purpose is only screening candidates before they appear for the mains examination. The marks which the candidates secure aren't taken into consideration for the final selection.

Mains examination is the second stage which is a subjective type examination. It comprises of 3-4 papers, which may vary from state to state, which are divided into civil law, criminal law and language paper. Marks secured in the mains examination are taken into consideration for the final selection.

A personality test or interview is the final stage of the selection procedure. At this particular stage the candidates are assessed on the basis of their personality, intelligence, general outlook, knowledge of law, etc.

What Is The New Proposed Aijs System?

Law Commission's 'Report on Reforms on Judicial Administration'[1] in 1958 proffered the idea of All India Judicial Services (AIJS), a system similar to that of UPSC for holding a nationwide common examination for appointment of the judges at the central level. The opposition from High Courts resulted in the abandonment of the proposal till 1976, after which in 1978, through Law Commission's 77th report and the 42nd amendment to the Constitution, thus adding content to Article 312[2], the idea was again proposed.

This time the idea was shelved as a result of opposition from the Chief Justices of various HCs, the idea was considered as a matter of hindrance to rights. In 1992, in the All India Judges Association v. Union of India[3] case, the judiciary analyzed the 1958's Report and recommended the Centre to set up AIJS. In 1996, Justice Shetty Committee or The First National Judicial Pay Commission was set up, which again recommended the creation of AIJS.

Again, in 2006 a draft Bill for AIJS was prepared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. In 2017, the SC took suo moto cognizance of the matter and advanced a Central Selection Mechanism.

In March 2020, the Ministry of Law and Justice highlighted the importance of AIJS to strengthen the judicial system, however, some states are sceptical about it as they do not want to lay off the powers vested with them to hold the examination at the state level. These states assert that the idea of AIJS would go against the principle of federalism and hence, the basic structure of the constitution.

Advantages Of The System
As each state has a different examination for recruitment, so does the pay and remuneration vary, hence, AIJS brings hope for setting a common level of pay for the district-level judges appointed at the National level. The system would also help in a faster appointment at vacant seats, as under the current system the vacant seats can be filled only when subsequent vacancies are announced for the next batch.

The time and method of training of judges also vary from state to state, but the system of AIJS would ensure that there is a set standard for the training of judges, the states lagging can learn from those excelling in the field of training of the Judicial Officers.

The AIJS system seeks to create an efficient lower judiciary, which would further help to improve India's ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index. Moreover, the share of the marginalized section in the lower judiciary has been falling below the expected level of inclusion, which can be ratified by making adequate reservations at the Central level.

If implemented properly, this system would have the potential to address problems like corruption and favouritism while appointing judges which exist at the local level.

What Do The Critics Say?
During 2019, when GOI started to consult with the HCs for the implementation of AIJS, many HCs did not respond to the procedure, a few suggested the implementation with some changes and the rest of them rejected the proposal.

Critiques point out that the new system won't be able to deliver justice to the unique needs of each state as it would create a centralized system with no such considerations of state-to-state differences. Also, the examinations conducted by the state include that of their regional language, which the Judge should have proficiency in, and if the centralized system fails to address this issue, its implementation would prove to be futile.

The said proposal has received major criticism from those who advocate the doctrine of separation of power. They feel that if a centralized system is set up for the recruitment of judges, then there is a possibility of the Executive interfering in the procedure, thus hampering the independence.

The new system aims at creating a centralized and more organized system for the recruitment of judges but like other systems, this one is also not free of flaws and has drawn major criticisms from various states, especially from the HCs as the system would take away the administrative power of recruitment vested with them.

The majority of criticism has been received from the southern states of India. The system proposes a threat to the independence of the judiciary. The administration is working towards bringing in some changes to the system so that it can be implemented with minimal or no opposition through consensus by taking in the grievances of each state.

  1. Report on Reforms on Judicial Administration <>.
  2. Article 312 <>.
  3. (1992) 1 SCC 119.

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