Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy’s primer on the All India Judicial Service
New Delhi, December 23rd, 2019: Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a leading independent legal think-tank based out of Delhi, has recently released a primer on the All India Judicial Service: A Solution in Search of a Problem? Which is one of the most debated judicial reforms in recent history.
Given the continuing political interest in the creation of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) we at Vidhi explaining as to why the AIJS may not be a good idea. The primer is a first-of-its-kind document that traces the trajectory of AIJS from 1954 till date, examining the history behind the proposal as well as highlighting the significant challenges in going ahead with the creation of an AIJS.
The primer focuses on issues such as federalism, judicial vacancies, existing reservation policies, local language and customs within states.
After its first introduction in the 14th Report of the Law Commission in 1958, the idea of AIJS has been reiterated by several stakeholders over the years and the Constitution was even amended during the Emergency to clear the decks for the creation of the AIJS.
The primer dispels some of the main arguments advanced in favour of its creation as these arguments emanate from outdated or incomplete information. Some of these arguments include:
Judicial vacancies – The Union Law Minister has been advocating AIJS as a possible solution for addressing the problem of judicial vacancies. The primer demonstrates how the 5000 vacancies are not uniform across states.
The numbers also direct attention to some High Courts such as those at Allahabad, Patna that contributes more to the overall vacancy in comparison to High Courts like Bombay, Sikkim, Manipur, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Further to this, the primer also illustrates how most of these vacancies actually lie at the subordinate judiciary and not at the level of district judges. An AIJS if conceived only for the district judges will not be the solution for vacancies.
Representation for marginalised communities – Prominent political leaders from backward communities such as Ram Vilas Paswan, the Union Law Minister and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes insist upon AIJS to introduce reservation for marginalised communities.
The primer shows, using the reservation quota figures for 14 states, on how the states are doing a substantial role in providing support to backward communities. It further argues how states are better placed to identify communities which are integral to the states and that need support for advancement.
Local language and customs – Both states and high courts on several occasions have voiced their support, indifference and issues with AIJS.
The most striking concern that has been raised is that a person who is not from the state will not be well versed with the local language nor would understand the customs, practices and traditions. Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have expressly flagged this as a challenge.
Federalism and independence – Introduction of a centralized examination will adversely affect the federal structure of the judicial administration of recruitment. States are best suited to select judges qualified to adjudicate matters that arise in the unique socio-economic context of every state.
For detailed reading, the report can be found here.
About Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy
The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (‘Vidhi’) is an independent think-tank doing legal research to make better laws and improve governance for the public good. Vidhi engages with the Government of India, State Governments, the Judiciary and other public institutions to inform policy-making and also to effectively convert the policy into law.
Vidhi undertakes original legal research, petitions courts on important law and policy issues, and collaborates with civil society, academic institutions and other stakeholders to have a positive impact on governance. Its abiding values are non-partisan engagement, research excellence and independence.