Centralised system for appointments in lower judiciary? Supreme Court may pass the order

On 04.08.2017, the 3-judge bench of JS Khehar, CJ and AK Goel and AM Khanwilkar, JJ indicated that the Court was inclined to go ahead with a proposal for a centralised selection mechanism for appointment of judicial officers in the subordinate judiciary even if there was no amicable consensus among various the high courts and the states. The Court said that  it wanted professional people to come into the judiciary so that they could do something for the institution. The matter was taken up suo motu by the Court after a letter was written to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court by Secretary (Justice) Snehlata Shrivastava at the Centre.

Stating that citizens should have confidence in the judiciary, the Court said that no country can progress if there is no functional and effective judiciary. No person from abroad would like to come to India and contest his case for 15 years. The Court said that, if required, it will have a day-long hearing on the issue on August 22 to resolve the objections of various States and High Courts to the proposal.

CJI said that the Court was inclined to pass an order after reaching an amicable consensus but if the objections persist, it may still pass the orders. Asking the Registry to send a “concept note” of the proposal allaying the objections to all the registrars general of the High Courts and the Secretaries of the Law Ministries of all the States, the Court said that the High Courts and the Secretaries of the Law Ministries of all the States should put the concept note on their websites to seek suggestions from the public and after analysis forward it to the apex court before August 17.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar presented 4 suggestions of the Union of India:

  • Examination should have a commercial law paper along with other subjects.
  • There should be a test to check the technology proficiency of the candidate
  • The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), being a professional independent body having experience, should conduct the examination.
  • The cost should be shared by the Centre and the States on a fifth-fifty basis.

The bench, however, disagreed with this suggestion of the solicitor general, saying it would amount to interfering in the federal structure as the syllabus for the exam was a State subject. These change of papers, marks, syllabus are small changes which could be given effect by modifying the order, when the need arises.

On 28.07.2017, the Court had asked Senior advocate Arvind Dattar, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, to prepare the concept note on the proposal after Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Calcutta high courts raised their objection on account of language and reservation criteria. The bench had assured the States that the centralised process would not affect their rules, reservation or language and it would be like a UPSC examination.

According to a report earlier issued by the Supreme Court –‘Indian Judiciary Annual Report 2015-2016’, 2.8 crore cases were pending in the district courts across the country which were short of nearly 5,000 judicial officers. The report had suggested increasing the judicial manpower “manifold” at least seven times to overcome the crisis by appointing about 15,000 more judges in the coming years.

Source: PTI

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