Nine high courts oppose all-India service for lower judiciary

Nine high courts have opposed a proposal to have an all-India service for lower judiciary, eight have sought changes in the proposed framework and only two have supported the idea, a law ministry document says.

The document, sent to all members of the parliamentary consultative committee on law and justice, also states that most of the 24 high courts want control over the subordinate judiciary.

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.

According to the document, 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)”.

It said 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.

The 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.

“Most of the high courts want the administrative control over the subordinate judiciary to remain with the respective high courts,” it said.

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, the document pointed out.

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

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.

“Adoption of the model followed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for conducting the National- Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses could also be explored,” the government had told the apex court.

The ministry had suggested various models to the apex court so that vacancies in the subordinate courts are filled up fast.

Besides the NEET model, the law ministry had also proposed that a “centralised examination” could be held by a “recruitment body” for selection of candidates and it can work under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

It also proposed that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) can also be asked to hold an exam to recruit judicial officers. The UPSC, it said, can modify its procedures and practices in consultation with the high courts to hold the specialised test.

The Secretary (Justice) has also suggested that some of the features followed by the Institute of Banking and Personnel Selection could also be followed to recruit judges to lower courts.

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

Central selection in lower judiciary won’t affect state rules: SC

Central selection in lower judiciary won't affect state rules: SC
Central selection in lower judiciary won’t affect state rules: SC

The Supreme Court today sought to dispel the apprehension that a proposal for a centralised selection mechanism for appointment of judicial officers in subordinate judiciary would affect the rules and regulations formulated by the states.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said the proposal has come forward so that vacancies could be filled up at regular intervals in the subordinate judiciary across the country.

“One thing we want to make very clear is that this suggestion does not touch and tinker with any state rules, terms and conditions, eligibility and all kinds of reservations given by the states,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Goel and A M Khanwilkar, said.

“Nothing is touched so far as the eligibility, terms and conditions of the respective states are concerned. It is only for centralising the selection process so that at regular interval, selection is conducted,” the bench said.

It said that at present, ordinarily a candidate has to apply separately for examination conducted by respective states but with a centralised mechanism, they can apply for multiple states which have same terms and conditions.

“One advantage, I do not think whether the government had understood it or not, is that there could be 2-3 states with exactly the same terms and conditions. Ordinarily, a candidate applies for one state as per the advertisement given by it, but here, one can apply for more than one state having the same terms and conditions,” Justice Khehar said.

The top court noted that 15 different high courts have submitted their comments on the proposal and three high courts of Gauhati, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab and Haryana, have sought more time to submit their comments.

It noted that the high courts of Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala and Gujarat have expressed some reservations on the proposal.

“So to effectively conclude the matter one way or the other, the registrars general of the high courts which have expressed reservations may submit details thereof. Such high courts which have sought further time will also finalise their views and place their suggestions before this court,” it said while posting the matter for hearing on July 27.

“Before parting with this order, we consider it necessary to record that the instant exercise being carried out by this court would not affect the rules and regulations presently in operation in different states in respect to appointments,” it said while observing that even the reservation policy of the states shall be maintained.

“The instant exercise is only for centralising the selection process so as to make the recruitment a regular feature which would result in filling up of vacancies at the earliest through a time bound mechanism,” it said.

During the hearing, the bench also observed that it would make changes only if “everybody will be on board”.

In May, the apex court had sought the views of state governments on a central selection mechanism for judicial officers as it decided to examine the proposals of its committee on judicial reforms.

It had said that the Centre had suggested various options to fill up the vacancies, including one for a central selection mechanism.

It had also observed that the selection process will remain the same and where state public service commissions or concerned high courts were holding tests for filling up the posts, they will continue to do so.

The apex court was hearing a case taken up on its own after a letter was written to the secretary general of the apex court by Secretary (Justice) Snehlata Shrivastava.

Referring to a meeting held by a government representative and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, who is also Chairman of Arrears Committee of Supreme Court on April 8, the letter of Secretary (Justice) had said timely filling up of vacancies in the subordinate judiciary was highlighted as an area of concern.

According to a report earlier issued by Supreme Court –‘Indian Judiciary Annual Report 2015-2016’– a whopping 2.8 crore cases are pending in district courts across the country which are 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.

Another apex court report — ‘Subordinate Courts of India: A Report on Access to Justice 2016’– has also highlighted that nearly 15,000 more judges would be required in the next three years to overcome this critical situation.

(Source – PTI)

“Lower judiciary should give bail on personal bond”

"Lower judiciary should give bail on personal bond"
“Lower judiciary should give bail on personal bond”

In order to avoid overcrowding of prisons, the lower judiciary needs to be sensitised to allow inmates, already granted bail in minor offences, to be enlarged on personal bond if they cannot arrange a surety, Delhi government told the High Court today.

The submission was made by Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra before a bench of justices G S Sistani and Vinod Goel during the hearing of a girl’s plea that her husband was unable to come out on bail, despite getting the relief, as he is unable to arrange a surety.

“Judiciary at lower levels need to be sensitised. For minor offences, we are keeping people in jail, which leads to overcrowding of prisons. I fail to understand what purpose it would serve.

“Depending on the severity of the offence and discretion of the trial court, they could be released on personal bonds as most of them remain in jail because they cannot afford bail,” Mehra said.

The bench asked the trial court to consider the application for grant of bail on personal bond and directed the police to carry out a verification of the man’s address.

The plea was moved during the hearing of a habeus corpus petition moved by the girl’s father in September 2016 to trace his missing daughter.

When the girl was traced in October last year, she had said she left with her lover out of her own free will and married him. She was also pregnant.

The girl’s father, however, had refused to accept his son-in-law, who was arrested on the complaint lodged by him.

( Source – PTI )

“Lower judiciary should avoid evocative verdicts”

"Lower judiciary should avoid evocative verdicts"
“Lower judiciary should avoid evocative verdicts”

“Touch the chord of a layman” by drafting simple judgements.

This was the suggestion given by Supreme Court Judge, Justice A K Sikri, to his colleagues, especially those in the lower judiciary.

Addressing a session at the ongoing Kumaon Literary Festival here, he suggested that the lower judiciary should draft simple judgements as they may lack the requisite expertise for using evocative language which ought to be used only by senior judges of high courts and the apex court.

“The law is meant for others as well. And it is about how you play with words. When we are wanting for words, poetry, film become convenient. It will touch the chord of a reader, a layman. Literature must be used only to forcefully convey an idea,” Justice Sikri said.

“Make it (evocative language) a tool, but don’t be swallowed by it. Judges at the lower level should avoid it as they may not have the expertise. A judgement should be said in a perfect manner,” he said.

The Supreme Court judge was deliberating on the topic ‘From legal literature to literature in law: Changing contours of judicial opinion’ during a session titled ‘My Lords, I Rest My Case!’ in the 2016 edition of the festival.

He said that evocative literary references must be used sparingly and only when trying to accentuate a judgement.

Sikri said that evocative language must be used only by senior judges of the High Court and Supreme court.

The session was aimed at discussing how the intersection between law and literature in judicial pronouncements ended up becoming judgements by the thesaurus, instead of being elucidative and illuminative.

Sikri explained the pitfalls of such an approach and pitched for making judgements easier to understand.

“The judgement is not meant only for lawyers. When a legal principle is laid down, that may be relevant not only for lawyers but also for other cases, because it becomes a precedent. The judgement is meant for litigants because it is their dispute. Sometimes a larger community is also interested. Judgement is more so for them as well,” he said.

Explaining the dangers of a judgement becoming too wordy, senior lawyer and Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi illustrated the point by referring to a paragraph in Justice Dipak Misra’s recent verdict in the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India.

Giving an example when judgements become too emotive and descend into hyperbole, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde pointed to the bail order granted to Kanhaiya Kumar where the judge started with the lyrics of the song “Mere desh ki dharti”.

“We have to use examples as pivots and as our servants.

But many times we end up with judgement by thesaurus,” Hegde said.

( Source – PTI )