Law Minister bats for national-level test to recruit judges for lower courts

NEW DELHI, June 11: Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today pitched for a national-level entrance test for “talent infusion” into the subordinate judiciary.

But at the same time, he made it clear that he was not rooting for a national-level judicial service on the lines of the all-India services such as the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service for appointing judicial officers.

He said the all-India examination would allow the pool of talented young lawyers who graduate every year from national law universities to be part of the subordinate judiciary.

He said serving judicial officers can also appear in the entrance exam which could be conducted by the UPSC.

He was speaking at the launch of a website and a mobile app of the Law Ministry to monitor the progress in development of judicial infrastructure in real time using remote sensing technology.

Appointments to the lower judiciary in the states are made by the respective high courts either directly or through public service commissions through state-level examinations.

The Government has in the past proposed an all-India judicial service to be conducted the Union Public Service Commission.

But nine high courts have opposed the proposal to have an all-India service for lower judiciary. Eight others have sought changes in the proposed framework and only two have supported the idea.

The Narendra Modi Government has given a fresh push to the long-pending proposal to set up the new service to have a separate cadre for lower judiciary in the country. The idea was first mooted in the 1960s.

The high courts of Andhra Pradesh, Bombay, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Patna and, Punjab and Haryana have not favoured the idea of All-India Judicial Service (AIJS).

Only the high courts of Sikkim and Tripura have concurred with the proposal approved by the committee of secretaries for formation of an all-India service for lower judiciary.

Allahabad, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Orissa and Uttarakhand high courts have suggested changes in age at induction level, qualifications, training and quota of vacancies to filled through the proposed service.

The high courts of Jharkhand and Rajasthan have indicated that the matter regarding creation of the AIJS is pending consideration, while no response has been received from the high courts of Calcutta, Jammu and Kashmir and Gauhati, a recent Law Ministry document showed.

Seeking to overcome the divergence of views, the Government had recently suggested to the Supreme Court various options, including NEET-like examination to recruit judges to the lower judiciary.

National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is conducted for admission to medical degrees.

There were vacancies of 4,452 judges in subordinate courts in the country as per the figures released on December 31, 2015. While the sanctioned strength is 20,502, the actual number of judges and judicial officers in subordinate courts is 16,050.

At present, various high courts and state service commissions hold exams to recruit judicial officers. (PTI)


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