Senior Advocate Arvind Datar had submitted a Concept Note to the Supreme Court yesterday regarding evolving a Central Selection Mechanism for the subordinate judiciary.
This was pursuant to a direction in the suo motu case initiated by the apex court regarding the same.
The Court had directed that the Concept Note be served to all High Courts and States so that they can submit their suggestions/objections to the same.
Bar & Bench has obtained a copy of the Concept Note.
The Concept Note gives a basic overview of the context and reasons for the adoption of a Central Selection Mechanism (CSM) for judicial appointments in India. It also provides the structure for the exam proposed to be conducted as the CSM, as well as the proposed administrative authorities.
Below are the excerpts.
Reasons for introduction of CSM
Taking cue from the large numbers of highly capable candidates attracted every year for the central civil services, the note observes that a central selection mechanism can incentivise equally eligible candidates to opt for judicial services.
“The larger the pool of aspiring candidates the higher the probability of getting the top candidates for State Judicial Services.”
A large number of judicial vacancies are not filled due to lack of qualified and meritorious advocates. This may be because there are no regular examinations conducted for judicial appointments, for which candidates can prepare in advance. To remedy the same, the note proposes that a centralised examination, namely the District Judges Recruitment Examination (DJURE), may be introduced as a single common examination across States for eligible candidates.
Measures to respect State Autonomy
The note emphasises that DJURE will not infringe upon State autonomy in terms of regulating aspects such as conditions of service, reservation, eligibility and other state-specific requirements pertaining to knowledge of local laws or local languages.Power of appointment to the State judicial services will remain with the Governors of the State as per the Constitution.
“The DJURE will neither recruit, nor appoint candidates as District Judges. It will merely present a pool of candidates from whom judges can be recruited, after an interview with the selection authority. The selection will remain with the respective High Courts in accordance with Article 233.”
The Examination process
The proposed selection mechanism consists of an exam and an interview. The exam is divided into four papers dealing with four areas of law i.e. Civil law and allied subjects (Law I), Criminal law and allied subjects (Law II), Miscellaneous subjects (Law III) and Local laws, customs and practice (Law IV), each carrying a weightage of 100 marks.
The interview carries a weightage of 200 marks. Keeping in mind that many district judges are likely be elevated to High Court, papers for Law I, II and III are recommended to be in English, as it is the official language for High Courts in most States. The Law IV paper will be in the local language. The syllabus is to be oriented towards the nature of the work to be discharged by successful candidates.
A cumulative ranking system, comprising National Rank list (based on the first three papers) and State rank list (based on the fourth paper), will determine the candidates eligible for the interview. The Concept Note suggests that a maximum of only five candidates be interviewed per vacancy, in the interest of preserving merit.
Proposed Administrative Authorities
A Central Selection Committee, comprising of a Chairperson and four other members (sitting or retired judges) to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India, will define the policies for the operation of CSM.
A Secretariat will be responsible for conducting the DJURE written exams, and constituting Interview Boards for conducting interviews for different State Judicial services.
Interview Boards may include psychologists and other experts in addition to legal experts so as to examine potential candidates in all aspects including integrity, work ethic etc. Adequate representation must be given to all High Courts in the constitution of Interview Boards.
The funding for the implementation for CSM is recommended to be undertaken by the Central Government, keeping in mind the All-India nature of the exam. A tentative timeline for conducting the exam has also been provided in the concept note.
Read concept note below.