SC for 'concept note' on central selection of judicial officers to allay objections

The Supreme Court today said it will issue a "concept note" on its proposal for a centralised selection mechanism for appointment of judicial officers in subordinate judiciary.

Published: 28th July 2017 11:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th July 2017 11:36 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court (PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today said it will issue a "concept note" on its proposal for a centralised selection mechanism for appointment of judicial officers in subordinate judiciary after some high courts expressed their reservation over any such move.

The apex court asked senior advocate Arvind Dattar assisting the court as an amicus curiae to prepare the concept note on the proposal after Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Calcutta high courts raised their objection on account of language and reservation criteria in their respective states.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said that the objections have been raised by the high courts as there has been some "confusion" owing to miscommunication about the process, which has not been crystallised so far.

The bench, also comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and A M Khanwilkar, said despite its July 10 order which gave details about the proposal, still "some confusion persists" and therefore Datta would prepare a "concept note" highlighting the various aspects.

At the outset, Dattar submitted that some high courts have raised objections to the proposal on account of language and reservation (quota) in jobs, prevailing in their respective states.

To this, the bench clarified that the centralised selection process would not affect their rules, reservation or language and it would be an examination like the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

"The candidates will give exam according to their language. Interviews will be held in their state. Only merit will be decided through a centralised mechanism like the UPSC or the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) as we want to fill up the vacancies in subordinate judiciary," the bench said.

Dattar said it may be the case that some high courts have got confused with the proposal for an all India judicial services (AIJS) examination.

"No, this proposal was never made. This is something new.

What was earlier proposed was an AIJS. We had held a meeting with all the chief justices on July 22 and they have all agreed in principle to the proposal for a centralised selection mechanism," it said.

The bench, however, said that if all high courts are agreeable then it will be done without affecting the federal structure.

It said that a representative from the high court concerned will be present in the interview to select a candidate for the subordinate judiciary in their respective states.

"At present, they (high courts) are not able to understand what we are doing, but if we formulate our proposal through a concept note highlighting the answers to their objection, we will be able to explain it further, and send the proposal back to them," the bench said.

The apex court while posting the matter for August 4, said that the appointment and eligibility conditions will have no change at all.

The apex court had on July 10 sought to dispel the apprehension that a proposal for a centralised selection mechanism for appointment of judicial officers in the subordinate judiciary would affect the rules and regulations formulated by the states.

The court had said that the suggestion does not touch and tinker with any state rules, terms and conditions, eligibility and all kinds of reservations given by the states.

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

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

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

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.

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.

According to a report earlier issued by the 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.

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