Millennium Post

A new judicial service

The introduction of the Indian Judicial Service (IJS), for which the government has prepared a cabinet note, to be put up to the union cabinet for approval this week, is an idea whose time has come. The formation of an All India Judicial Service has been a long-pending judicial reform, which has found support from members of the judiciary, jurists as well as successive governments, with it being first mooted by the first Law Commission. The IJS will be an all India service for the judiciary on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service. The members of this service would be recruited through a competitive examination similar to that for the civil services. Unlike the present day entrants to the subordinate judiciary, they will have an attractive remunerative package as well as career progression and will enter the higher judiciary at a relatively young age. These factors will, presumably, attract persons of calibre to the service. There are many reasons why such a judicial reform is necessary. There is, at present, a disjunct between the subordinate judiciary and the higher judiciary with it being relatively rare for members of the former to get promoted to the latter. Partly because of this, there is a difference in the quality and calibre of the judges at the two levels, with not many being attracted the the subordinate judiciary largely because of inadequate compensation and service conditions.

There is also a problem regarding recruitments to the higher judiciary. At present, high court judges are mostly selected by a collegium of apex court judges for reasons that are not always apparent. There is a need to introduce transparency in the system which fair recruitment through an examination system will bring about.  There is, at the same time, an enormous shortage of judges in the country and this is evident even at the highest levels. As of June 2009, there are eight vacancies out of the sanctioned strength of 31 in the Supreme Court, 234 out of 886 sanctioned posts of high court judges and 2,998 out of 16,721 posts in the lower judiciary, according to the figures available with the Supreme Court. The absence of sufficient judges contributes to the total backlog of pending cases in the country, which amounts to about 3.12 crore total cases, with 52,592 in the Supreme Court,  40,17,956 in the high courts and 2,71,19,092 in the lower courts. An Indian Judicial Service, with a flexible cadre strength, may help meet the shortage of judges. The government should, therefore, go ahead with the constitution of the IJS without hesitation.
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