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The Union Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, yesterday batted for a unified All India Judicial Service (AIJS) for recruitment of judges across the country.
Prasad was speaking at the inaugural event of the additional building complex of the Supreme Court of India when he outlined the government’s endeavours to contribute towards judicial infrastructure and also touched upon the subject of judicial appointments.
Congratulating the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for his “extreme interest” in filling up the vacancies in the lower judiciary, Prasad said that judicial appointments is an avenue where the government and the Collegium need to work together.
“Judicial appointments must go on as fast as possible, we have to work together.”
He took the opportunity to highlight that the Supreme Court, after a long time, is functioning at its full strength. He then advocated the need for an All India Judicial Service for the appointment of Judges. As per this system, recruitment (of judges) would be done at national level.
“Perhaps today the time has come to seriously reflect upon the need for an all India judicial service having the best brains of national law schools, best lawyers, giving due regard to the deprived community in a robust constitutional manner and so that the recruitment is be done at the national level.”
This is not the first time that this government has pushed for AIJS. In June this year, the Law Ministry had reportedly sought replies from High Courts and State Chief Secretaries on the proposal to set up a national level AIJS. This development took place nearly two years after the Law Ministry formally discussed the creation of the AIJS in January 2017.
Despite this proposal first featuring in a Law Commission report as far back as in 1986, no development to that effect has taken place till date on account of lack of a consensus of all the stakeholders. This position of stalemate was also highlighted by the Centre before the Delhi High Court in 2016 when the Law Minister submitted that not all of the High Courts were in favour of AIJS.
As regards the Supreme Court’s position on the subject, a three-Judge Bench led by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, in December 2018, had said that something like AIJS cannot be created through a judicial order. Interestingly, in 1992, the Supreme Court had ruled that the recommendations of the Law Commission made in 1986 “be examined expeditiously and implemented as early as possible” by the Centre.
More importantly, the Supreme Court had, in 2017, initiated a suo motu PIL on a “Central Selection Mechanism” for subordinate judiciary. This was done during the tenure of Justice JS Khehar as the Chief Justice of India.
However, a few High courts and State governments had expressed their reservations regarding the move. Justice Khehar had repeatedly clarified that what was being mooted was not an All India Judicial Service and had assured that there will be no interference with the State Rules or syllabus. He had also appointed Senior Advocate Arvind Datar to make a concept note on the issue. However, this case was last heard in October 2018 and seems to have gone into cold storage.