This is why the Supreme Court has doubts over the All India Judicial Services

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today expressed its doubts about the feasibility of an All India Judicial Services (AIJS) in the existing federal setup.

A Bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice NV Ramana was hearing a PIL for bringing in judicial services themed on the civil services to recruit judges to courts in the country.

“In our federal set up High Courts are independent. They are not under the [administrative control] of Centre or Supreme Court.”

The PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking the introduction of the AIJS is being heard in the apex court along with the petition seeking speeding up of appointment of judges to high courts.

Upadhyay had initially approached the Delhi High Court, which dismissed the petition in an order passed in November last year. However, the court did, on a previous hearing, direct the Ministry of Law and Justice to file a reply to the petition.

The Ministry’s response pointed to a deadlock among different states as the primary reason why the AIJS has yet to come to fruition. The reply states,

“A comprehensive proposal was formulated for the constitution of an All India Judicial Service and the same was included as an agenda item in the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the High Courts held in April, 2013.

The views of the State Governments and High Courts were sought on the proposal. There was a divergence of opinion…While some State governments and High Courts were not in favour of creation of All India Judicial Services, in some other cases the State government and High Courts wanted changes…”

Currently, different states follow their own process for recruiting judges to lower judiciary. Judges to High Courts and the Supreme Court is appointed by the Collegium.

Besides this, today’s hearing also witnessed certain incisive observations by the Supreme Court when advocate Mathews Nedumpara tried to intervene in the matter on behalf of National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms. Nedumpara was questioning the locus of the petitioner and the conflict of interest in Justice Khehar hearing the matter.

Nedumpara, who is usually given audience by the Court, was greeted with some tough remarks by Chief Justice Khehar.

“We must lay down some law to deal with these prayers for recusal. People waste our time seeking recusal. You stand up and say anything you want…”, said Khehar J.

Nedumpara has repeatedly sought recusal of Justice Khehar from different cases relating to judicial appointments citing conflict of interest because Khehar J. is part of the Collegium.

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